Practice Relating to Rule 106. Conditions for Prisoner-of-War Status
Section A. Distinction from the civilian population
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) provides that combatants must “have a fixed distinctive sign recognisable at a distance and carry arms openly … Combatants are normally expected to distinguish themselves from the civilian population by wearing a uniform.”
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
5.12 … Where [combatants] are not members of the armed forces, they must also have a fixed distinctive sign recognisable at a distance and carry arms openly.
5.13 … A member of the armed forces does not lose combatant status merely by operating covertly or as a guerrilla. That is, while combatants are normally expected to distinguish themselves from the civilian population by wearing a uniform, the LOAC recognises that they do not have to wear a uniform on operations to retain their status as combatants. This is conditional on combatants who cannot so distinguish themselves because of the nature of hostilities, openly carrying arms during:
• each military engagement, and
• at such times as they are visible to the adversary while engaged in a military deployment preceding the launching of an attack in which they are to participate.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).