United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 34. Journalists
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
Apart from war correspondents accredited to the armed forces, who have prisoner of war status on capture, journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict are entitled to the protection afforded a civilian. A special identity card certifying status as a journalist may be issued by the state of which the individual is a national, or in which he resides, or where his employer is located.
In 2003, in reply to a written question in the House of Commons asking whether there would be “an inquiry into the numbers of deaths of journalists during the current campaign in Iraq”, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence wrote:
All reports of coalition action resulting in the deaths of civilians are investigated. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland works with coalition partners to verify the facts of such reported incidents. The profession of civilian casualties is not a concern when investigating such incidents.
Very careful attention is applied to ensure that in the coalition’s campaign the risk of damage to civilian populations and infrastructure is minimised. However, military action is never without risk, and lawful actions against military targets may result in harm to civilians. Any civilian casualties resulting from military action are deeply regretted.
The active battlefield is not a benign environment and coalition forces cannot be held responsible for, or guarantee the safety of, journalists who enter such a location independently. This is one of the reasons why we have embedded war correspondents whose activities can be properly co-ordinated with our own forces.