Practice Relating to Rule 25. Medical Personnel
Section A. Respect for and protection of medical personnel
Colombia’s Circular on Fundamental Rules of IHL (1992) states that the protection due to the wounded and sick “also covers, as such, medical personnel”.
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) states that it is prohibited “to attack … medical and aid personnel”.
Colombia’s Emblem Decree (1998) lists as persons who must be protected:
medical, paramedical and aid society personnel, members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and persons who, permanently or temporarily, provide humanitarian services and transports of medicine, food and humanitarian aid in situations of armed conflict or natural disaster.
Under Colombia’s Penal Code (2000), it is a punishable act to “hinder or prevent, at the occasion of and during armed conflict, medical, health and aid personnel … from carrying out the medical and humanitarian tasks assigned to them by the norms of International Humanitarian Law”.
Colombia’s Decree No. 138 (2005), which implements the Emblem Law (2004), states:
All authorities and persons in Colombia must protect the medical … personnel of the public forces [i.e. the armed forces and the police], the civilian medical personnel [as well as] the medical, paramedical and relief personnel who permanently or temporarily carry out humanitarian tasks in situations of armed conflict.
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 respect and protect medical personnel “has attained customary status, mainly due to its impact on State practice and on conflicts in the last decades”.