Practice Relating to Rule 47. Attacks against Persons Hors de Combat
Section B. Specific categories of persons hors de combat
Djibouti’s Disciplinary Regulations (1982) states: “It is prohibited for combatants to … fire on, wound or kill an enemy combatant who has surrendered, been captured or with whom a ceasefire has been concluded”.
Djibouti’s Manual on International Humanitarian Law (2004) states with respect to “[c]ombatants who surrender”: “Spare them.”
The manual also states:
[T]he Geneva Conventions are based on the respect for the human being and his or her dignity. They provide that “persons who do not participate directly in hostilities … [or] who are placed hors de combat
by sickness, wounds [or] detention” must be respected and protected against the effects of war.
In 2010, in the History and Geography Textbook for 8th Grade, Djibouti’s Ministry of National Education and Higher Education, under the heading “Basic rules of IHL” and in a section on “Weapons and tactics”, stated: “It is prohibited to kill or wound an enemy who surrenders.ˮ
In an exercise asking students to identify IHL violations, the ministry provided the following examples:
[A former detainee states:] “[W]hen a prisoner is captured they do not really know what to do with him. That is why soldiers kill prisoners.”
[A widow states:] “When my brother-in-law was a prisoner of war, they did not treat prisoners properly. They were afraid of what the prisoners may speak up one day about what they did to them. That’s the reason why many prisoners were killed[:] just to cover up the abuse.”
[An operations commander states:] “If I receive information that the enemy kills captured men from our camp, I will take revenge on every man [from their camp] I capture.”
[An employee of a non-governmental organization states:] “Soldiers reckon that they shall kill the prisoners of war. Since they have to take the prisoner wherever they go, he is an unnecessary burden. They are responsible for that person, thus to get rid of this responsibility, they kill him.”
In 2011, in the History and Geography Textbook for 9th Grade, Djibouti’s Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training, under the heading “[O]ffences related to violations of humanitarian law”, listed “[k]illing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer any means of defence, has surrendered at discretion”.
Under the heading “Ethics of Debne warriors” [referring to inhabitants of the Dikhil region in Djibouti], the ministry also stated:
2. Do not kill an enemy who surrenders.
3. Never attack an adversary who carries a white flag.