Practice Relating to Rule 109. Search for, Collection and Evacuation of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked
Somalia’s Military Criminal Code (1963) states:
A commander who causes serious harm … to the sick, wounded or shipwrecked, by not according them the treatment prescribed by law or by international agreements … shall be punished, unless the act constitutes a more serious offence, by military confinement for not less than three years.
In 1998, an ICRC publication entitled “Spared from the Spear” recorded traditional Somali practice in warfare as follows:
The leader … gave out the following instructions which were to be strictly followed:
7. We should not abandon our wounded on the battlefield. We should rather fight tenaciously to rescue them and evacuate them to safety.
The publication also described traditional Somali practice as follows: “Examining the actual treatment of the war-wounded in traditional Somali conflicts, we find that, generally, Somalis followed the practice of sparing the enemy’s wounded who were found lying on the battlefield. These were rather taken home”.
In 2011, in its comments on the concluding observations of the Human Rights Council concerning Somalia’s report, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia referred to “Spared from the Spear” as its “own Geneva Conventions”:
In times of hostilities, the Biri-Ma-Geydo
(Spared from the Spear), i.e. Somalia’s own “Geneva Conventions”[,] which existed long before the adoption of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, mitigated and regulated the conduct of clan hostilities and the treatment of immune groups.