Practice Relating to Rule 80. Booby-Traps
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states: “It is prohibited in all circumstances to use any booby-traps in the form of an apparently harmless portable object.” It refers to the 1980 Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. It also prohibits:
booby-traps which are in any way attached to or associated with internationally recognized protective emblems, signs or signals, sick, wounded or dead persons, burial or cremation sites or graves, medical facilities, medical transportation, medical equipment or medical supplies, food or drink, objects of a religious nature, cultural objects and children’s toys, and all other objects related to children, animals or their carcasses.
The manual further prohibits the use of “booby-traps designed to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering”, again with reference to the 1980 Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
The manual adds: “This prohibition does not apply to fixed demolition appliances and portable demolition devices lacking harmless appearances.”
The manual further provides: “The location of … booby-traps shall be recorded: the parties to the conflict shall retain these records and whenever possible, by mutual agreement, provide for their publication.”
Germany’s IHL Manual (1996) states:
International humanitarian law prohibits the use of a number of means of warfare which are of a nature to violate the principle of humanity and to cause unnecessary suffering, e.g. … explosive traps, when used in the form of an apparently harmless portable object, e.g. disguised as children’s toys.
In 1987, a member of the German Parliament condemned the use of booby-traps by Russian forces in Afghanistan. He stated: “The USSR, in Afghanistan, uses so called butterfly-bombs against children, which the children mistake to be toys because of their small size and their slowly floating down from the sky.” The speaker continued: “This war against children is a shame.” His speech met with the approval of the majority of the members of parliament.
Upon acceptance of the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Germany stated: “[T]he provisions of the amended Protocol which by their contents or nature may be applied also in peacetime, shall be observed at all times.”