Practice Relating to Rule 59. Improper Use of the Distinctive Emblems of the Geneva Conventions
France’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975), as amended, states that it is prohibited “to use improperly … the distinctive signs provided for in international conventions”.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) states: “It is prohibited … to use improperly the symbol of medical services.”
France’s Emblem Law (1939) provides:
The use, either by private individuals or by societies or associations other than [medical services of the armed forces and societies officially authorized to give assistance], of the said emblems or denominations [red cross, “Red Cross” or “Geneva Cross”], as well as of any signs or denominations constituting an imitation thereof, regardless of the purpose … of the use, is prohibited at all times.
France’s Code of Military Justice (1982) punishes:
any individual, military or not, who, in time of war, in the area of operations of a force or unit, in violation of the laws and customs of war, uses improperly the distinctive signs and emblems defined by international conventions to ensure the respect for persons, objects and places protected by those conventions.
France’s Code of Military Justice (2006) states:
The offence by any person, military or not, who in times of war, in the area of operations of a force or unit, in violation of the laws and customs of war, improperly uses the distinctive signs and emblems defined by the international conventions to ensure the respect for persons, objects and places protected by these conventions, is punished with five years’ imprisonment.
France’s Code of Defence (2004), as amended in 2008, states: “[Combatants] are … prohibited to improperly use … the distinctive emblems recognized by international law.”
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, state: “Any unlawful use of [the red cross or red crescent] is prohibited and must be punished.”