Practice Relating to Rule 59. Improper Use of the Distinctive Emblems of the Geneva Conventions
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides: “It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent.”
According to the manual, “improperly using … the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions” constitutes a war crime.
The manual also provides that, in a non-international armed conflict, “the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent … must not be used improperly”.
Canada’s Code of Conduct (2001) provides: “False and improper use of the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem is prohibited.”
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on land warfare: “It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent.”
In its chapter on naval warfare, the manual states: “Warships and auxiliary vessels are also prohibited from actively simulating the status of: … f. vessels entitled to be identified by the emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent”.
In its chapter on “War crimes, individual criminal liability and command responsibility”, the manual states that “improperly using … the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions” constitutes a war crime.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflicts, the manual states that “the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent … is to be respected at all times, and must not be used improperly”.
Canada’s Code of Conduct (2005) provides:
False and improper use of the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem is prohibited. The use of the Red Cross to shield the movement of troops or ammunitions is also prohibited. Perfidy is a war crime. Committing a hostile act under the cover of the protection provided by the distinctive emblem would constitute perfidy.
Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) provides that the war crimes defined in Article 8(2) of the 1998 ICC Statute are “crimes according to customary international law” and, as such, indictable offences under the Act.
The Canadian Red Cross Society Act (1909), as amended by an Act assented to on 22 June 2007, states:
No person shall wear, use or display for the purposes of his or her trade or business, for the purpose of inducing the belief that he or she is a member or representative of, or agent for, the Society or for any other purposes whatsoever, without the Society’s written authorization, any of the following:
(a) the heraldic emblem of the Red Cross on a white ground, or the words “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross”;
(b) the emblem of the Red Crescent on a white ground, referred to in Article 38 of Schedule I to the Geneva Conventions Act, or the words “Red Crescent”;
(c) the third Protocol emblem – commonly known as the “Red Crystal” – referred to in Article 2, paragraph 2 of Schedule VII to the Geneva Conventions Act and composed of a red frame in the shape of a square on edge on a white ground, or the words “Red Crystal”; or
) any other word, mark, device or thing likely to be mistaken for anything mentioned in paragraphs (a
) to (c
In 2013, in the Sapkota case
, Canada’s Federal Court dismissed a request for review of a decision denying refugee protection to the applicant on grounds of complicity in crimes against humanity in Nepal between 1991 and 2009. While reviewing the submissions of the respondent, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Court stated: “The Respondent notes that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
… is endorsed in Canada as a source of customary law.”