United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 65. Perfidy
Section B. Killing, injuring or capturing an adversary by resort to perfidy
The UK Military Manual (1958) states: “It is expressly forbidden by the [1907 Hague Regulations] to kill or wound by treachery individuals belonging to the opposing State or army.”
The manual also states:
Assassination, the killing or wounding of a selected individual behind the line of battle by enemy agents or partisans, and the killing or wounding by treachery of individuals belonging to the opposing nation or army, are not lawful acts of war. The perpetrator of such an act has to claim to be treated as a combatant, but should be put on trial as a war criminal. If prior information of an intended assassination or other act of treachery should reach the government on whose behalf the act is to be committed, that government should endeavour to prevent its being carried out.
It is not forbidden to send a detachment or individual members of the armed forces to kill, by sudden attack, members or a member of the enemy armed forces.
In view of the prohibition of assassination, the proscription or outlawing or the putting of a price on the head of an enemy individual or any offer for an enemy “dead or alive” is forbidden.
The prohibition extends to offers of rewards for the killing or wounding of all enemies, or of a class of enemy persons, e.g., officers … Offers of rewards for the capture unharmed of enemy personnel generally or of particular enemy personnel would seem to be lawful …
How far do the above rules apply to armed conflicts not of an international character occurring in the territory of a State, e.g., a civil war or large scale armed insurrection? The acts which are prohibited in such conflicts are those set out in common Art. 3 of the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions, see paras. 7 and 8. Para (1) (a) of that article forbids “murder of all kinds” in respect of persons who do not take an active part in the hostilities and those members of armed forces who have laid down their arms or who are hors de combat
. If a government or military commander offers rewards for all or individual armed insurgents killed or wounded by the forces engaged in quelling the insurrection, such offers are open to the same objection as those set out above in respect of hostilities between belligerents and are probably unlawful.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy.”
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “It is forbidden … to kill or wound an enemy by treachery.”
The manual further provides: “Persons who kill or wound by resort to perfidy commit war crimes and should be put on trial.”
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states: “It is prohibited to kill or wound by resort to treachery.”
In its chapter on enforcement of the law of armed conflict, the manual further states:
The Hague Regulations 1907 are now recognized as part of customary law. Those regulations provide that the following acts are “especially forbidden”:
b. to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army.
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xi) and (e)(ix) of the 1998 ICC Statute.