Practice Relating to Rule 34. Journalists
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) states that journalists and war correspondents on mission in an area of armed conflict are civilians and may not be attacked.
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states: “The following are not military objectives and cannot therefore be attacked: … War correspondents and journalists on assignment in armed conflict areas, [who are civilians]”.
The manual also states: “War correspondents are entitled to prisoner-of-war status. They are defined as all those members of the media who accompany the armed forces with their permission and with the relevant accreditation.”
The manual further states: “Journalists are not afforded absolute protection; they are considered to be civilians when undertaking dangerous professional missions, provided that they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians.”
In 2010, in the Couso case, which concerned the killing of a Spanish journalist in Baghdad on 8 April 2003 by troops of the United States of America, the Criminal Chamber of Spain’s Supreme Court held:
F) The  IV Geneva Convention and its  Additional Protocol I, incorporated to our legal system through Article 96(1) CE [1978 Spanish Constitution], which establishes the protection of persons defined as “civilians” (in particular journalists) … [has] been manifestly unfulfilled … by the US.
The Court also referred to norms of IHL relevant to the case under review, including Article 79 of 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The Court upheld the appeal against the order of 23 October 2009 by the Third Section of the Criminal Chamber of the Spanish National Court, which declared the termination of the proceedings, and held that “the proceedings must continue, and the outstanding preparatory enquiries must be undertaken, as well as any others arising from the clarification of the events under investigation.