Practice Relating to Rule 28. Medical Units
Colombia’s Circular on Fundamental Rules of IHL (1992) states that the protection due to the wounded and sick “also covers, as such, … medical establishments”.
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) states that “attacks, misappropriation and destruction” of medical units constitutes a “grave breach”.
Colombia’s Military Penal Code (1999) provides a prison sentence for “anyone who during military service and without proper cause … attacks hospitals or poorhouses which are properly marked”.
In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07
, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated that the obligation in the 1977 Additional Protocol II to protect medical units “has attained customary status, mainly due to its impact on State practice and on conflicts in the last decades”.
In 2008, in its fourth periodic report to the Committee against Torture, Colombia stated:
136. In the period 2002–2006, on the basis of discussion with civil society organizations represented by health sector associations, governmental organizations and some representatives of the academic community, the principles of protection and respect for the medical profession have been incorporated into public policies on human rights and IHL.
139. In the area of reducing the effects of the violence exercised by organized paramilitary armed groups on health workers, facilities and means of transport, the State, civil society and health sector jointly face a number of challenges, including the following: [e]nsuring that the armed groups meet IHL standards; training health workers in the rules and principles which protect medical work; and encouraging an attitude of rejection towards offences committed against the medical profession.