Practice Relating to Rule 29. Medical Transports
Section C. Respect for and protection of hospital ships
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
117. The following vessels shall not be attacked:
- military hospital ships;
- hospital ships;
- small craft used for coastal rescue operations and medical transports;
The above vessels shall not be attacked or captured if they:
- are innocently employed in their normal role;
- do not commit actions falling under Paragraph 116 [i.e., make an effective contribution to military action];
- do not intentionally hamper the movement of combatants and obey orders to stop or move out of the way when required.
118. Ships that belong to any class of vessels mentioned in Paragraph 117 may only be attacked as a last resort if:
- diversion is not feasible;
- no other method is available for exercising military control;
- the acts it commits give reasons to consider it as a military objective;
- the collateral casualties or damage will not be disproportionate to the military advantage gained or anticipated.
119. Military hospital ships shall not be attacked or captured and shall enjoy respect and protection, on condition that their names and descriptions have been notified to the parties to the conflict ten days before those ships are employed.
Hospital ships shall have the same protection as military hospital ships on condition that they observe the provision concerning notification with regard to the latter; they must also be provided with certificates from responsible authorities stating that the vessels have been under their control while fitting out and on departure.
The medical and religious personnel of hospital ships and their crews may not be captured, whether or not there are wounded and sick on board.
122. The ships described in Paragraph 119 shall not be exempt from protection provided by international humanitarian law if:
- the crews of ships are armed for the maintenance of order, for their own defence or that of the sick and wounded;
- apparatus exclusively intended to facilitate navigation or communication is present on board;
- portable arms and ammunition taken from the wounded, sick and shipwrecked is discovered on board;
- equipment and personnel intended exclusively for medical duties are transported, over and above the normal requirements.