Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section A. The principle of distinction
In 2011, in its Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis July 2006–May 2009, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence stated:
184. The Humanitarian Operation that commenced in Mavil Aru, converted itself to a civilian rescue mission in the last phases of the war …
196. … [M]eticulous pre-planning was carried out prior to commencing each phase of the rescue operation. The chief objective being the minimising of casualties, the following strategies were adopted:
d. Snipers were constantly used since the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] were intermingling with civilians. This had a tremendous impact on the civilians as they observed that the targets taken were the LTTE combatants engaged in the act of firing, and Security Forces carefully avoided the civilians in the vicinity.
The Ministry of Defence further stated: “On 18 May 2009, Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, bringing to an end three decades of conflict and suffering.”