Practice Relating to Rule 47. Attacks against Persons Hors de Combat
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that any person placed hors de combat
may not be attacked.
In addition, “attacks against … a person who is recognized to be hors de combat
” are listed as a grave breach of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “The humanitarian law of war provides for the safeguarding of fundamental human rights of certain categories of persons who are not involved in the fighting, or no longer taking part in combat.”
According to the manual, the humanitarian law of war provides “rules for the protection of different categories of people and property which are not, or have ceased to be, involved in the fighting, e.g., the wounded and sick, shipwreck survivors, prisoners of war, civilians and civilian objects”.
The manual also states: “The belligerents must leave those who are outside the armed conflict out of reach of military operations, and refrain from deliberately attacking them.”
In its chapter on the protection of the wounded and sick, the manual states:
All wounded and sick, also shipwreck survivors, to whichever party they belong, should be spared and protected. The terms “respected” and “protected” are complementary. “Respected” means not harmed, not exposed to suffering or injury and not killed. “Protected” means active safeguarding against dangers and prevention of suffering. Any attack on the lives of the wounded and sick is prohibited. In particular, they must not be killed or exterminated and must not be subjected to torture or any other forms of cruelty.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states: “It is prohibited to attack an adversary who has laid down his arms or surrendered.”
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states: “Persons who are not, or have ceased to be, participants in fighting or hostilities should be protected.”
Under the International Crimes Act (2003) of the Netherlands, it is a crime, during an international armed conflict, to commit
the following acts, when they are committed intentionally and in violation of the relevant provisions of Additional Protocol (I) and cause death or serious injury to body or health:
(v) making a person the object of attack in the knowledge that he is hors de combat