Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, August 24th, 2017

IHL Violation – A Matter of Great Concern

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which supports the rights of non-combatants and the injured during armed conflicts is a controversial issue and hardly observed by warring sides, mainly terrorist networks. Warring factions are supposed to distinguish between civilians and soldiers and target only the combatants and military places. Inflicting unnecessary sufferings upon civilians, persecuting or killing prisoners of war and locals or humiliating them are not allowed on the basis of rule of war.
The IHL will be applied during both the International Armed Conflict (IAC) – when two or more countries or a country and an international organization are engaged in conflict – and non-International Armed Conflict (NIAC) when a country and a non-state group or two or more non-state groups are fighting against each other in a single territory. However, a war waged against a despotic, racist or colonial regime by a nation will be included in NIAC on a certain condition.
The Geneva Conventions which comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war was approved to reduce unnecessary sufferings of non-combatants and support human rights and dignity during wartime. The First Geneva Convention “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field” first adopted in 1864, revised in 1906, and finally 1949. The Geneva Conventions are rules that apply only in times of armed conflict and seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities; these include the sick and wounded of armed forces on the field, wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians.
It is worth saying that the prisoners of war should be treated with respect and dignity. Torturing, mutilating, humiliating or killing them is considered against the IHL. After all, they are not supposed to stand trial unless they are involved in war crime. In other words, this is the soldiers’ rights to participate in conflicts which is not a crime to be judged upon. Imprisoning them is aimed to prevent them from war. When the conflict comes to an end, they should be released.
In brief, these acts will remain prohibited at any time and in any place: violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking of hostages; outrages upon dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
All warring factions, countries and the international community will have to observe the IHL. Hence, targeting civilians, including women and children, and civil infrastructures are considered war crime.
Ill-fatedly, humanitarian law is violated flagrantly by warring parties, mainly by terrorist fighters. For example, the Taliban target civilians, teachers, lecturers, doctors, hospitals, schools, universities, etc. without a tinge of guilt. They neither recognize nor respect the international instruments. Militant fighters are widely involved in war crime in the region. The IS group tramples upon the rights and dignity of civilians in the worst possible way. They kill people indiscriminately and violate their human rights and dignity. The IS fighters raped women, sliced the throat of children and spilled the blood of men in Iraq and Syria. They did not only destroy residential estates but also historical monuments the same as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.
Reports regarding the Taliban’s cruel practices make repeated headlines in national and international newspapers. In the country’s ongoing conflict, the Taliban guerilla fighters are carrying out attacks disproportionately in crowded areas which will cause great sufferings for non-combatants.  The graph of civilian casualties is mounting with each passing day in Afghanistan caused by all parties involved in the war. Thus, violation of IHL is a matter of serious concern in the country and besides the struggles made by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), the government will have to prevent from inflicting sufferings on civilians in two ways: First Afghan and foreign soldiers must operate with due consideration to civilians’ lives. Second, those who are involved in war crimes must be prosecuted on fair justice. In addition, the militant fighters must not be given the chance to violate the IHL to that great extent. Based on the aforementioned facts, the militant fighters are involved in war crime and must be prosecuted fairly as soon as they are captured. Furthermore, the international community must take more serious step to prevent from civilian casualties and violation of their rights and dignity in ongoing conflicts in the region, mainly in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.