Practice Relating to Rule 108. Mercenaries
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) defines mercenaries as “persons who are specially recruited at home or abroad to fight for pay during an armed conflict”.
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006), under the heading “Non-Combatants”, states: “A mercenary is a person who is specially recruited at home or abroad to fight for remuneration during an armed conflict.”
The manual also states:
A mercenary refers to any person:
a) who is specifically recruited in a State party to a conflict or abroad to fight in an armed conflict and who effectively and directly takes part in hostilities;
b) who is not a national of a party to the conflict, nor resident of the territory controlled by a party to the conflict, nor a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict.
His essential motivation is personal gain which is generally superior to the remuneration granted to members of the armed forces of the State party which has recruited him who have a similar rank and fulfil similar functions.
At the CDDH, Cameroon suggested that the definition of a mercenary in Article 42 quater
of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 47) would have been improved by the deletion of the condition of a promise of “material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions” in paragraph 2(c) because “it would be very difficult to prove that a mercenary received exorbitant pay”.
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) states: “Mercenaries who take part in military operations for private gain shall not be considered as combatants and consequently are not entitled to prisoner-of-war status.”
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006), under the heading “Non-Combatants”, states:
Mercenaries who engage in military actions for remuneration are not considered combatants and therefore cannot benefit from prisoner of war status. … [M]ercenaries must be treated humanely …; one must avoid … infringements of their physical or psychological integrity. These persons must be tried in accordance with the law of the State.
The manual also states: “[M]ercenaries do not benefit from the protection of the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law. Nonetheless, they must in all cases be treated humanely.”
The manual further states: “The actions which they [mercenaries] have undertaken are only subject to individual responsibility.”