Practice Relating to Rule 89. Violence to Life
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) prohibits violence to the lives and physical integrity, in particular murder of all kinds, of war victims, namely the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, prisoners of war and the civilian population.
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
Under any circumstances international humanitarian law ensures humane treatment during an armed conflict of persons not directly involved in combat operations … In particular, the following shall be prohibited with regard to such persons: violence to life and person, including murder of any kind … [and] threats to commit any of the above acts.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the Regulations states:
The following acts against [all persons who do not take a direct part or who have ceased to take part in hostilities] are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever:
- violence to … life …, in particular murder [and] threats to commit any of the foregoing acts.
The Russian Federation’s Criminal Code (1996) provides for the punishment of the killing or extermination of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group when conducted as a part of a genocide campaign.
In 1994, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Rwanda, the Russian Federation expressed serious concern at “the deliberate mass extermination of innocent people”.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case
in 1995, the Russian Federation affirmed that the existence of the right to life did not mean that it was not possible to deprive a person of life through legitimate use of force, as confirmed, for instance, in Article 2(2) of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.
In 2011, in an interview for Russian media during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation stated:
The International [Criminal] Court is a body at which, in accordance with its Statute, legal action can be taken. In this case, as in the case of Libya, the Statute provides that the action shall be initiated by the UN Security Council. As for Libya, we turned to the International Court, which, in turn, stated that it would deal with crimes or allegations of crimes committed by not only the regime but also by the opposition. There, too, much has been done by militant rebel groups that may well fall under the mandate of the ICC. Gaddafi was one of those named in the Security Council resolution, but there was no trial against him. The International Court must now investigate how he was killed, which falls under the jurisdiction of this structure. You cannot kill war prisoners, it is necessary to ensure their safety. In the case of the murder of POWs a war crime is committed. This is one reason why the International Criminal Court can and should intervene.