Practice Relating to Rule 29. Medical Transports
Section A. Respect for and protection of medical transports
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) defines medical transports in accordance with Article 8 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
With reference to Article 21 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the manual states that medical transports over land “in general, enjoy the same protection and are subject to the same regulation as mobile medical units”.
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states that attacks are prohibited against medical transports, which are defined in accordance with Article 8 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. The manual adds that civilian medical transports “enjoy the same protection as their military counterparts, provided that they comply with the requirements entitling them to special protection”.
The manual further states that “the means of transport for the wounded and sick and medical supplies” become a military objective and may be attacked “when they transport troops or war material at the same time”.
The manual also states: “In general, medical transports by land must be respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units.”
Spain’s Military Criminal Code (1985) provides for the punishment of any soldier who “knowingly violates the protection due to … medical transports … which are recognizable by the established signs or the character of which can unequivocally be distinguished from a distance”, provided that the protection due is not misused for hostile purposes.
Under Spain’s Penal Code (1995), wilful violations of the protected status of medical transports are war crimes.
Spain’s Penal Code (1995), as amended in 2003, states:
Anyone who [commits any of the following acts] during armed conflict shall be punished with three to seven years’ imprisonment:
1. Knowingly violating the protection owed to … medical means of transportation.