Practice Relating to Rule 97. Human Shields
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) prohibits the use of individual civilians or inhabited areas in order to protect military formations, movements or positions.
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) provides that protected persons “cannot be used in any case as human shields”. The prohibition is also stated regarding prisoners of war.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) restates Article 51(7) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. It also provides: “To use protected persons as human shields to protect military objectives is strictly prohibited.”
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes related to international armed conflict:
Using a person protected by the international law of armed conflict with the aim of deterring certain points, zones or military forces from being targeted by military operations, is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.
The Report on the Practice of France refers to various statements in which the French President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs have condemned the use of civilians, prisoners of war and members of peacekeeping operations as human shields.
In 2009, the President of the French Republic stated: “In Sri Lanka … [t]he Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam movement should stop resorting to the use of human shields … .”