War In The Balkans: Conventions Being Violated

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The Independent Online
IF ACCOUNTS of Serb atrocities are accurate, Yugoslav officials and commanders could beprosecuted by The Hague war-crimes tribunal. The basis of humanitarian law is the four Geneva Conventions and the treaty banning land-mines.

n 130 countries, including Yugoslavia, last month signed the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel mines. Anti-tank mines are not outlawed but the Serbs are laying mines in the path of fleeing civilians.

n Persecution of doctors. "Under no circumstances shall any person be punished for carrying out medical activities compatible with medical ethics, regardless of the person benefiting therefrom." Article 15

n Bombardment of villages. "The parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and ... direct their operations only against military objectives." Article 48

n Attacks on civilians. "Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited." Article 51

n Destruction of farms. "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops [and] livestock". Article 54

n Parading of captives on TV. Article 75 prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment".

n Rape and indecent assault. "Women shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected in particular against rape, forced prostitution and any other form of indecent assault." Article 76

n Responsibility. "The fact that a breach of the Conventions of this Protocol was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from penal or disciplinary responsibility". Article 86

Richard Lloyd Parry

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