Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
Venezuela’s Law on the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (2008) states:
Article 136. Instruction and training
Members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces must be instructed and trained permanently in human rights and international humanitarian law[.]
Venezuela’s Law on the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (2008), as amended to 2011, states:
Article 139. Instruction and training
Male and female members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces must be instructed and trained permanently in human rights and international humanitarian law[.]
Venezuela’s Ministerial General Directive on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Courses for the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (2012) states:
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has subscribed to a number of international agreements, treaties and conventions which impose on the State the obligation to disseminate their provisions. This is the case in particular of agreements or conventions related to human rights and international humanitarian law. In order to comply with this obligation, courses on such fields of law must be included in the Venezuelan military education, thus fulfilling the commitment to disseminate both in times of peace and armed conflict the provisions contained in the international instruments that govern them.
The incorporation of such courses into the military training aims at ensuring that their principles are known and respected by all members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, in order to foster and promote a culture of respect, protection and realization of human rights and application of international humanitarian law, required at all times.
A. General provisions
1. To incorporate at least two hours a week of human rights and international humanitarian law courses into the training of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces per academic term.
2. The courses on human rights and international humanitarian law must be mandatory for all military personnel of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
B. Specific provisions
2. The minimum content for the syllabus of the international humanitarian law course will be the following depending on the level of education:
Addressed to the enlisted troop
Synopsis of the content:
Topic 1. Introduction to international humanitarian law: concept, application and importance. Legal basis.
Topic 2. Treatment of prisoners of war. Detainees and persons deprived of their liberty. Practical exercises and behaviour.
Topic 3. Treatment of the civilian population and specifically protected objects. The wounded and the sick. Disabled persons and pregnant women. Children. Refugees and stateless persons. Cultural property: historical monuments, works of art, places of worship, scientific work and other distinctive emblems. Practical exercise.
Topic 4. Violations of international humanitarian law. Situations where troop personnel might be susceptible to violating international humanitarian law.
Addressed to cadet personnel, students from military institutes and professional troops
Synopsis of the content:
Topic 1. Introduction to international humanitarian law: concept, evolution. Antecedents of international humanitarian law in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Fundamental principles of international humanitarian law. International human rights law and international refugee law.
Topic 2. Law of The Hague. Law of Geneva. Mixed law. General knowledge of relevant treaties. International legislation regarding international humanitarian law. The 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 and 2005 Additional Protocols.
Topic 3. Application of international humanitarian law. Charter of the United Nations. International and non-international/internal armed conflicts. Internal disturbances, tensions and demonstrations: differences. The case of Colombia.
Topic 4. International humanitarian law in Venezuelan legislation. Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (1999). Organic Law on the Safety and Defence of the Nation. Decree with Rank, Value and Force of Organic Law of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces. Organic Code of Military Justice. Venezuelan Penal Code.
Topic 5: Fundamental categories of persons and objects. Combatants. Military objectives. Civilians. Medical personnel. Religious personnel. Civilian, religious and cultural objects. Signs. Means and methods of warfare.
Topic 6. International refugee law. Fundamental concepts: refugee, displaced person, economic migrant. Differences. Organic Law on Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Mass influxes. Role of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces with regard to refugees.
Topic 7. Violations of international humanitarian law. Specific situations that violate international humanitarian law. Importance of the respect for international humanitarian law. Responsibility in the area of international humanitarian law. Individual criminal responsibility and State responsibility. International Criminal Court.
Addressed to junior officers
Synopsis of the content:
Topic 1. International humanitarian law. Importance of the respect for and compliance with international humanitarian law, legal framework. Fundamental concepts: insurgency, belligerency, mercenaries. Protecting power. Preparatory measures in peacetime.
Topic 2. Armed conflicts: introduction and evolution of conflicts. Charter of the United Nations as an instrument regulating the use of force. Beginning of an armed conflict. Requirements for the existence of an armed conflict. Tactics and means of combat employed.
Topic 3. Post-armed conflict measures. Repatriation. Liberation of persons and objects. Missing and dead persons. Role of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
Topic 4. International refugee law. International and domestic legal framework. Role of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces regarding refugees.
Topic 5. Command responsibility. Responsibility in military operations and command responsibility with regard to international humanitarian law. Obligation to provide instruction to military personnel in the law of armed conflicts.
Topic 6. Exercising command: introduction, mission, elements, decision-making and control over the execution.
Topic 7. Breaches of international humanitarian law provided for in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Organic Code of Military Justice. Criminal responsibility in international humanitarian law. Individual responsibility. State responsibility for violations of the rules of international humanitarian law. International Criminal Court. Rome Statute.
Topic 8. Practical aspects of the implementation of international humanitarian law. Humanitarian rules: civilian populations, non-combatants, humanitarian assistance to the wounded, sick or detained.
Addressed to superior officers
Synopsis of the content:
Topic 1. International humanitarian law: general information, fundamental principles. Armed forces and international humanitarian law.
Topic 2. Handling armed conflicts. General strategic concepts related to the prevention and handling of armed conflicts. Role of superiors/commanders. The case of Colombia.
Topic 3. Planning and conduct of military operations. Strategies. International humanitarian law in the decision-making process. The role of intelligence. Personnel. Logistics. Planning and conduct of military operations: civilian matters and operations from the perspective of international humanitarian law. The case of Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia. Armed conflict Las Malvinas.
Topic 4. Occupation and neutrality. Principles related to occupation. Security measures. Combat actions. Inviolable neutral space. Duties of the parties to a conflict. Neutral State.
Topic 5. International refugee law. Asylum application. Procedure. Preliminary asylum records. Provisional refugee document. Procedure in cases of mass influxes. National and international bodies related to refuge. The case of Darfur (Sudan). The case of the Colombian refugees in Venezuela.
Topic 6. International Criminal Court: general information, antecedents, complementarity, justification, jurisdiction and functioning. Difference from the International Court of Justice.
Crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Genocide. Crimes against humanity. War crimes. Crime of aggression. Case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In 2011, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Venezuela stated:
F. Article 6
1. Application and enforcement of the  Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict]
105. As for the duty of the State to apply and ensure the effective implementation of the Optional Protocol, article 4 of the Organic Act on Child Protection establishes a binding obligation for the State to take all necessary administrative, legislative, judicial or other measures to that end. The National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents was created for that purpose.
106. To fulfil its obligation to disseminate the Optional Protocol, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela created the Autonomous Institute and National Council on the Rights of Children and Adolescents as part of the National System for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents. The Institute is responsible for advocating and raising awareness about the rights, guarantees and duties of children and adolescents, as well as representing their interests and concerns before the other agencies and stakeholders in the system.
107. The Optional Protocol is in full effect in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and is applied by all State institutions, especially the Ministry of Defence, the staff of which has been briefed on the Optional Protocol under review and has participated in its dissemination, through activities carried out across the country by every branch of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. Full compliance with every article has thus been ensured.
108. The Venezuelan State, acting through the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Office of the State Representative for Human Rights and the Ministry of Communes and Social Protection and its subsidiary agency, the Autonomous Institute and National Council on the Rights of Children and Adolescents, reiterates its commitment to disseminating the Optional Protocol among the general public and the country’s military and police forces.
In 2012, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, Venezuela stated:
With regard to the military, article 134 of the Decree with the scope, effect and force of the Bolivarian Armed Forces Organization Act states that the Ministry of People’s Power for Defence is the body responsible for the human rights and international humanitarian law aspects of defence and sets out the necessary organizational and regulatory structure for the promotion, supervision and protection of such rights by means of the adoption of the appropriate policies and doctrines. Thus the National Guard Officers’ Training School has a mandatory department of human rights and international humanitarian law, thus ensuring that members of the national armed forces comply with human rights in all their official actions. A total of 185 officials, including senior and junior officers, non-commissioned officers, professional soldiers and civilian staff have undergone training within the department.
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In 2012, in its fourth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Venezuela stated:
Article 134 of the Decree having the Status, Value and Force of an Organic Act on the Bolivarian Armed Forces states that the Ministry of Defence will lead the defence sector in matters of human rights and international humanitarian law and establishes the organizational and regulatory structure required for the promotion, monitoring and defence of those rights through the adoption of policies and rules. The National Guard Training Institute thus runs a compulsory course on human rights and international humanitarian law, thereby ensuring that members of the National Armed Forces comply with human rights standards in the performance of all their professional duties. In 2011, 185 members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces attended this course, including senior officers, junior officers, non-commissioned officers, professional soldiers and non-military personnel.
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