Practice Relating to Rule 36. Demilitarized Zones
Section B. Attacks on demilitarized zones
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states: “Generally, demilitarised zones are protected from attack.”
The manual further provides that “making … demilitarised zones the object of attack” constitutes a grave breach or a serious war crime likely to warrant institution of criminal proceedings.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states: “Generally, demilitarised zones are protected from attack.”
The manual further states:
[The 1977 Additional Protocol I] extends the definition of grave breaches to include the following … acts when committed wilfully, in violation of the relevant provisions of the protocol, and causing death or serious injury to body or health:
• making … demilitarised zones the object of attack.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Australia’s Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 2002, provides that “a person who, in Australia or elsewhere, commits a grave breach … of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] is guilty of an indictable offence”.
The grave breaches provisions in this Act were removed in 2002 and incorporated into the Criminal Code Act 1995.
Australia’s Criminal Code Act (1995), as amended to 2007, states with respect to war crimes that are grave breaches of 1977 Additional Protocol I:
268.98 War crime – attacking undefended places or demilitarized zones
A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator attacks one or more towns, villages, dwellings, buildings or demilitarized zones; and
(b) the towns, villages, dwellings or buildings are open for unresisted occupation; and
(c) the attack results in death or serious injury to body or health; and
(d) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.
Australia’s ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act (2002) incorporates in the list of war crimes of the Criminal Code grave breaches of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including “attacking … demilitarised zones”.