Practice Relating to Rule 25. Medical Personnel
Section A. Respect for and protection of medical personnel
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands defines medical personnel with reference to Article 25 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I and Article 8 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The manual states: “Medical personnel … must be respected and protected.”
With respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, the manual states: “Medical personnel … must be respected and protected and must receive aid to fulfil their tasks.”
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands states:
Medical personnel engaged temporarily or permanently in the care of the wounded and the sick must be able to fulfil their humanitarian tasks under all circumstances. Persons in charge of the administration and operation of medical units and material (for example administrative personnel, cooks and drivers) belong to the medical personnel. This personnel may not be attacked.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Medical (and religious) personnel must be respected and protected.”
The manual further states:
Rendering humanitarian assistance never means involvement in the conflict.
- The immunity granted to medical personnel is coupled with the obligation of such personnel to refrain from any hostile action.
- No one may be harassed or condemned for helping the wounded or sick.
In its chapter on combatants, the manual states: “The term ‘non-combatant’ is used for anyone who is not a combatant. This includes all civilians … It also includes medical personnel”.
The manual further states:
[Medical and religious personnel] may be held by the adversary only as long as the state of health, spiritual needs and numbers of prisoners of war require. During the time of detention of medical personnel by the adversary, they must at least enjoy the benefits of the Prisoner of War Convention [1949 Geneva Convention III]. They must be returned if the medical or religious activities are not necessary and military circumstances make a return possible. The exception is that medical auxiliaries are treated as prisoners of war.
In addition, the manual provides: “Military members of the medical and religious personnel are not treated as prisoners of war. The detaining power may require them to lend support and assistance to prisoners of war.”
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
Medical and religious personnel must be respected, protected and helped in fulfilling their duties. They may not be forced to carry out tasks incompatible with their humanitarian mission.