Practice Relating to Rule 30. Persons and Objects Displaying the Distinctive Emblem
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) states:
The specific immunity granted to certain persons and objects by the law of war must be strictly observed. Specifically protected persons and objects can be identified by the display of the emblem of the red cross, red crescent or red lion and sun.
The manual qualifies “attacks against marked property” as a war crime.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides that the red cross and red crescent emblems “indicate that the persons, material and installations which display them have a special protected status and may not be made the object of attack or violence”.
Under the heading “Red Cross and Red Crescent (rules of protection)”, the manual also provides:
The emblem appears on the flags, buildings, installations and mobile units of the medical units, on their means of transportation as well as on the armlets, headgear and clothing of the medical and religious personnel.
Protected are therefore:
- the medical personnel, military or civilian, of the parties to the conflict, including that of civil defence organizations;
- the medical personnel of the national societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and of other national aid societies authorized by one of the parties to the conflict;
- the religious personnel permanently or temporarily attached to the armed forces, medical units and means of transportation, or civil defence organizations.
France’s Code of Defence (2004), as amended in 2008, states: “Combatants are to respect the distinctive emblems prescribed by international law as well as their beneficiaries.”
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes common to both international and non-international armed conflicts:
Intentionally launching attacks against medical personnel, buildings, material, units and transports displaying, in accordance with international law, the distinctive emblems provided for in the [1949 Geneva Conventions] or their  Additional Protocols is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.
Under the instructions given to the French armed forces for the conduct of Opération Mistral, simulating a military operation under the right of self-defence or a mandate of the UN Security Council, the red cross emblem must be respected in all circumstances.