Practice Relating to Rule 27. Religious Personnel
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states: “Religious personnel, both military and civilian, have protected status and thus shall not be attacked.”
With respect to non-international armed conflict in particular, the manual states: “Religious personnel are to be respected and protected at all times [and] receive all available aid to enable them to fulfil their duties”.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Combatant Status”: “Chaplains of the armed forces are non-combatants. They may not be attacked. If captured, they will be returned to their armed forces unless they are retained by the Detaining Power to assist PWs [prisoners of war].”
In its chapter on targeting, the manual provides:
Medical and religious personnel, both military and civilian, have protected status and thus shall not be attacked. These persons wear the Red Cross or Red Crescent … and carry identity cards which identify them as protected persons.
In its chapter on the treatment of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, the manual also states:
“Religious personnel” have the same protections as medical personnel. They are non-combatants. In all cases, the provisions relating to distinctive emblems, such as ID cards and status upon capture for medical personnel applies equally to religious personnel.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflicts, the manual states: “Medical and religious personnel are to be respected and protected at all times [and to] receive all available aid to enable them to fulfil their duties.”
In its glossary, the manual defines “chaplain” as “a minister who is a member of the armed forces and who is exclusively engaged in the work of the ministry”.
“Religious personnel” is defined as follows:
Religious personnel mean military or civilian persons, such as chaplains, who are exclusively engaged in the work of their ministry and attached to:
a. the armed forces of a party to the conflict;
b. medical units or medical transports of a party to the conflict;
c. medical units or medical transports made available to a party to the conflict by:
(1) a neutral or other state which is not a party to that conflict;
(2) a recognized and authorized aid society of such a state; or
(3) an impartial international humanitarian organization; or
d. civil defence organizations of a party to the conflict.