Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975) states that action against the enemy must be conducted “within the framework of respect for the laws and customs of war”.
The Regulations also provides: “The Armed Forces shall conduct their operations … with the intent to respect sincerely … international humanitarian law.”
The Regulations further provides: “Respect for the rules of international law must be a natural duty for a Cameroonian soldier.”
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) provides: “The Armed Forces shall be subject to a regime of internal discipline which ensures respect for the Law of War.”
The manual also states: “Each commander ensures respect for the Law of War within his sphere of command … The Law of War is above all a question of order and discipline.”
The manual further specifies that “the State must respect and ensure respect for the Law of Geneva and its rules” and that “from the beginning of the hostilities, the parties to the conflict: … shall ensure respect for the Law of War in their sphere of authority”.
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states: “The State is bound to respect and ensure respect for the law of Geneva and its rules.”
The manual also states that in time of peace: “The [State] parties … must examine in an adequate way the measures taken … and must take supplementary measures necessary to respect the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.”
The manual continues: “After the opening of hostilities, the parties to the conflict … [must] ensure respect for the law of armed conflict in their sphere of authority.”
The manual further states: “The Armed Forces shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which ensures respect for the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.”
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (2007) states:
Article 26: Principles
The strength and cohesion of combat units require that each soldier, at all levels, participate with energy and selflessness in the action against the enemy.
That action must be carried out, whatever happens, until the full completion of the mission.
It must be conducted within the framework of respect for the laws and customs of war.
Article 31: Humanitarian rules
The Defence Forces must carry out their operations until the completion of the mission, with the intent to respect sincerely … international humanitarian law.
Article 35. Responsibility and instruction
Within the framework of the rules of this chapter, the soldiers of the Cameroonian Defence Forces must make themselves thoroughly familiar with their responsibility as regards respect for international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflicts: the violation of these rules makes them war criminals who may be brought before national military courts or international criminal courts.
Thus, respect for the rules of international law must be a natural duty for the Cameroonian soldier. If, in a particular situation, he is in doubt as regards the rules of international law, he must ask his superior for a decision; if that is impossible to him, he acts in accordance with his conscience.