Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) states that “Australia is responsible for ensuring that its military forces comply with LOAC” and that “all ADF [Australian Defence Force] members are responsible for ensuring that their conduct complies with the LOAC.”
The Guide adds:
Mission planners are responsible for ensuring that operations plans and ROE fully comply with LOAC. To discharge this responsibility, all operations plans and ROE should be reviewed by ADF legal advisers experienced in operations law. In addition, targeting lists and individual missions are to be carefully scrutinised by military planners and their operations law advisers.
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states: “Australia is responsible for ensuring that its military forces comply with the laws of armed conflict (LOAC) … All ADF [Australian Defence Force] members are responsible for ensuring that their conduct complies with LOAC.”
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
1.1 … Commanders must be aware of their legal obligation to prevent unnecessary injury and suffering and to alleviate as much as possible the calamities of war.
1.13 … [M]embership of the armed forces requires knowledge of the LOAC.
3.1 Nations are bound by the LOAC either by way of an international agreement or under customary international law. Where the LOAC is applicable in a particular conflict it is not only binding on nations but also on individuals, and in particular on the individual members of the armed forces of nations.
3.3 … The LOAC applies to any armed conflict (whether there is a declared war or not) and whether or not a state of armed conflict is recognised by all parties to the conflict. The Geneva Conventions also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a party to the Convention, even if that occupation meets with no armed resistance.
13.1 Australia … is responsible for ensuring that its military forces comply with the LOAC.
13.2 All ADF [Australian Defence Force] members are responsible for ensuring that their conduct complies with LOAC.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
At the outset of the Iraq War in March 2003, Australia’s Department of Defence issued guidance to news organizations regarding the restrictions under IHL placed on the identification of prisoners of war:
Department of Defence is aware that some news organisations have shown images of prisoners of war (POWs) in the course of covering the events of the conflict in Iraq.
Media organisations should be aware of Article 13 of the Geneva Convention III, which states that POWs must at all times be “protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity”.
Article 27 of the Geneva Convention IV has the same provisions for civilian detainees and civilian internees. This includes restrictions of photographing and filming POWs, civilian detainees and civilian internees.
Defence requests media organisations “pixilate” the faces of both Coalition and Iraqi prisoners of war.
In 2009, in a ministerial statement on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Australia’s Attorney-General stated:
Australia has … been involved in a number of the armed conflicts I referred to earlier, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Australia’s record in involvement in conflict, in United Nations mandated peacekeeping operations and in missions such as those in which Australians are serving in East Timor and the Solomon Islands is distinguished by the respect for the principles of international humanitarian law displayed by members of the Defence Force and by others who have answered the call, including members of the Australian Federal Police.