Practice Relating to Rule 106. Conditions for Prisoner-of-War Status
Section A. Distinction from the civilian population
Italy’s IHL Manual (1991) states:
In order to obtain the best possible protection of the civilian population, lawful combatants are obliged to distinguish themselves from the civilian population when they participate in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack.
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) states that combatants, members of the armed forces, “distinguish themselves by their uniform or by a recognizable distinctive sign or at least by carrying their arms openly”.
At the CDDH, Italy stated that Article 42(3) of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 44(3)) “embodied and reaffirmed without amendment or derogation a basic rule of existing international law, the need for combatants to distinguish themselves from the civilian population”. It added that “it was essential that the distinction principle should remain the basis of international humanitarian law, because on respect for that principle depended the protection of the civilian population”.