Practice Relating to Rule 25. Medical Personnel
Section A. Respect for and protection of medical personnel
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) defines medical personnel with reference to Article 8 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The manual states, with reference to the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions and both Additional Protocols, that “respect and protection” of medical personnel include the duty not to attack medical personnel, and the duty to defend, assist and support such personnel when needed. The manual further explains:
It must be underlined that the protection of medical personnel is not a personal privilege but rather a corollary of the respect and protection due to the wounded and sick, who must be treated humanely in all circumstances. This means that the protection of medical personnel is not permanent but is only granted when such personnel are carrying out their humanitarian tasks. Medical personnel lose the special protection to which they are entitled if they commit acts of hostility. Such behaviour might even constitute perfidy if in so doing they take advantage of their medical position and the distinctive emblems.
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) defines medical personnel with reference to Article 8 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The manual also states that medical personnel of the armed forces and civilian medical personnel are protected persons and cannot therefore be attacked.
The manual further explains:
It should be emphasized that the protection to which medical personnel are entitled is not an individual privilege granted to them, but rather a natural corollary to the obligations to respect and protect the wounded and sick, who must be treated humanely in all circumstances.
This means that such protection is not permanent; it is granted when and for as long as medical personnel are performing humanitarian duties. If medical personnel commit acts of hostility, they lose this special protection, and their conduct could be considered an act of perfidy if they take advantage of their medical status or the protective emblems to commit such acts.
The manual further states that “medical personnel … who take a direct part in hostilities” are military objectives and can therefore be attacked.
Spain’s Military Criminal Code (1985) provides for the punishment of any soldier who “exercises violence against the personnel of medical … services, be they enemy or neutral, members of aid organizations and personnel affected to the services of [medical establishments]”, provided that the protection due is not misused for hostile purposes.
Spain’s Penal Code (1995) provides for the punishment of “anyone who should … exercise violence on health … personnel, or members of medical missions or rescue teams”.
Spain’s Penal Code (1995), as amended in 2003, states:
Anyone who [commits any of the following acts] during armed conflict shall be punished with three to seven years’ imprisonment:
2. Exercising violence against medical … personnel or against a member of medical missions.