Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section C. Attacks against civilians
Ireland’s Basic LOAC Guide (2005) states: “Prohibited targets include civilians not taking part in hostilities”.
The manual also states:
[P]eaceful “enemy” civilians may in no way be attacked or molested. They are, however, subject to the risks of war and if they are accidentally wounded or killed as a result of legitimate military operations, no guilt attaches to the soldiers concerned.
The manual further states: “The prohibition of attacks on civilians … includes all attacks whether committed in offence or defence.
The manual notes that “making a civilian or civilians the object of attack” is a grave breach of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that grave breaches of the 1977 Additional Protocol I are punishable offences.
In addition, under the Act, any “minor breach” of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 51(2), as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 13(2), are punishable offences.