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Colombia: ICRC calls on all parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law

21-02-2002 News Release 02/16

Geneva (ICRC) – Following the breakdown of negotiations between the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia / People's Army) and the government, intensified fighting looms. In accordance with its mandate, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation to respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law applicable to non-international armed conflicts.

The ICRC stresses that all parties to armed conflict must distinguish at all times between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian property and military objectives. Attacks against the civilian population as such, as well as against individual civilians, are prohibited, as are indiscriminate attacks. The latter are attacks likely to cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

Persons not taking or no longer taking part in hostilities, including the wounded, the sick and prisoners, must be treated humanely at all times and their lives must be spared. Medical personnel, establishments and transports are also entitled to such protection. Commanders must supervise their men so as to ensure that their conduct towards civilians complies at all times with the aforementioned rules and principles.

In the last few hours the ICRC has deployed four teams of experts in emergency situations to the area in order to closely monitor developments and provide humanitarian assistance should the need arise.