Practice Relating to Rule 29. Medical Transports
Belgium’s Law of War Manual (1983) states: “Transport over land of the wounded and sick and medical material enjoys the same protection as medical units and material: it may not be made the object of attack.”
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers states:
The protection accorded to the wounded would be illusory if the civilian and military medical services which are specifically set up to treat them could be attacked. Hence, medical services, identified by the Red Cross (or Red Crescent in certain countries), are not considered combatants or military objectives even if they wear the enemy uniform or bear its insignia. Enemy medical transports … may not be attacked.
Belgium’s Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (1993), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998 ICC Statute], and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :
intentionally directing attacks against … medical … transports.
Belgium’s Law of War Manual (1983) states:
Medical aircraft are immune from attack during the flights agreed upon beforehand between belligerents. They may not fly over enemy controlled or occupied territory without authorization. They must obey each order to land … No authorization is necessary to fly over territory controlled by one’s own forces. Medical aircraft are still protected above contact zones, but the risk of sustaining damage are bigger in the absence of an agreement.