Practice Relating to Rule 146. Reprisals against Protected Persons
Section E. Civilians in general
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) provides: “Specific prohibitions dictate that civilians are not to be made the express object of an attack or reprisal.”
In another provision, the manual refers to Articles 51–56 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and states: “Protected persons, such as … civilians … should not be the subject of reprisals.”
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) provides: “Reprisal actions against civilians are … prohibited.”
In another provision, the manual states: “Reprisals against civilians … are prohibited.”
The manual further provides: “Protected persons, such as … civilians … should not be the subject of reprisals.”
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states: “Reprisal actions against civilians are … prohibited”.
The manual further states: “G. P. I [1977 Additional Protocol I] extends the categories of persons and objects against whom reprisals are prohibited to [include] … civilians and the civilian population”.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
During the Second Reading Speech of the Geneva Conventions Amendment Bill 1990, the purpose of which was to amend the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 so as to enable Australia to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Australia’s Attorney-General stated:
He [the shadow Attorney-General] called in particular for a reservation on the prohibition on reprisals contained in the protocol. A reservation on reprisals would not be accepted by some countries. A reservation would operate reciprocally between Australia and a future enemy also party to the protocol. If we did that, it would reduce the level of protection afforded by the protocol to Australian civilians and civilian objects.
None of the 99 countries which have become party to the protocol have seen the need to make such a reservation – not one of them. The prohibition on reprisals in the protocol is not a total prohibition. Reprisals are prohibited against civilians, cultural objects and places of worship, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, the environment, dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations containing dangerous forces. The prohibition on reprisals represents an important development in protection of civilians against the horrors of modern warfare.