INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW: IS IT PROTECTIVE ENOUGH FOR THE MEDICAL PERSONNEL?
Author: Sameer Afzal Ansari, IV year of B.A.,LL.B. from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
War thas tbeen ta tcruel tthing tsince tthe tvery tbeginning. tMost tof tthe ttime, people's trights twhich tare tprotected tby tlaw tget tviolated tduring ta twar. tWe can tsee tin tmany tarmed tconflicts tthe trights tof tcivilians tbeing tignoredand they tbecome tthe tmain thostages tof tthe twar. tTo tprotect tcivilians tand ensure ttheir trights, tInternational tHumanitarian tlaw t(IHL) twas tenacted. tIt is tbased ton ttwo tcore tprinciples-- trules tprotecting tvictims tduring tthe war, and tregulating tthe tway tmilitary toperations tare tconducted tby tmilitary personnel's t(methods tof twarfare) tand tlimiting tthe tproliferation tof weapons.
Besides, tIHL tis tdeveloped tthrough tmany ttreaties tand tconventions. tThe Geneva tConvention tis tone tof tthem. tIt twas tintroduced tin t1864 tto tprotect the tsick, twounded tduring ta twar. tThis tconvention tprovides tthat tall wounded tand tsick tpeople tare tentitled tto tall tsorts tof ttreatment. tMedical personnel, tmedical testablishment, ttransport tand tnecessary tequipment must be tprotected tunder tall tcircumstances tand tthe tarmed tforces tare tbound tto do tso.
Medical tfacilities thave talways tbeen tconsidered tas tfundamental thuman rights tand tthese trights talso treserve tmany tother ttreaties, tconvention, tand protocols. tWe tsee tmany twounded tpeople tand tmedical tpersonnel tdie without tgetting tproper ttreatment tand tfacilities twhich twere tassured tby IHL.
Again, tarticles t18, t19 tand t20 tof tthe tGeneva tConvention tare trelated tto the tprotection tof tcivilians tand tproviding tthem tmedical tfacilities tin tthe time tof twar. tAccording tto tthose tarticles, thospitals tmust tbe tprotected unless tthey tare tused tfor tany tother tpurpose tthan tmedical tservices. Civilian thospitals tshall tbe tmarked tby temblems. tIt tmeans tthose thospitals are tnot tsubject tto twar tand tare tprivileged tfor twounded tcivilians. t
IHL tespecially taims tat tprotecting tthe tmedical tfacilities tfor tmaternity cases. tPriority tin tdeploying tthe tbest tpossible tnumber tof thospital tstaff and medical tpersonnel tis tset tby tthe tlaw tas twell. tHowever, treality tis tdifferent and tno twar tproperly tabides tby tthese tlaws.
Many thospitals twere tattacked tby tthe tarmed tforces, twhen tthe twounded civilians twere tadmitted tfor ttreatment. tThe twhole tworld tis taware tof tthe fact tof tPalestinian tnurse tRajan tAl- tNajar twho twas ta t21 tyears told voluntary tparamedic, tkilled tby tIsraeli ttroops tnear tthe tborder. tMore tso, she tembraced tthis tunfortunate tfate twhile ton tduty. tThe tPalestinian medical trelief tsociety tstated, t"She twas tattempting tto tprovide tfirst taid tto an tinjured tprotester." tShe twore tclothing tthat tclearly tidentified ther tas ta healthcare tworker tby tthe tUN toffice. tThe tIsrael tmilitary tshot ther tin tcold blood twith tproper tknowledge tthat tshe twas ta tmedical tworker.
Israeli tsoldiers topened tfire tat tGaza tprotesters tnear tthe tborder tfence ton t May 13, t2018, twhich talone tleft t211 thealth tworkers tinjured. tThe tcase tis the same twith tthe tSyrian twar. tMedical tprofessionals tare toften ton tthe tfront lines tin tconflict tsituations, tand tit tis toften tseen tthat tthey tare ttargeted deliberately. tPHR tdata tshows tthat t923 thealth tworkers tdied ttill tMarch tlast year tin tSyrian tconflict tthat tstarted tfrom t2011. t tAmong tthe tdeceased, 269 were tdoctors. t143 tmedical tworkers twere tdetained tor tkidnapped tand subsequently tkilled.
Syrian tgovernment tand ttheir tRussian tallies tare tresponsible tfor t91 tpercent of tthose tdeaths. tAutonomous tarmed tgroups tincluding tISIS, tinternational coalition tforces, tKurdish tforces, tor tunidentified tforces tare tresponsible tfor the trest tof tthe tcasualties.
After tthe twar tof tIraq, tthe tWorld tHealth tOrganisation tand tthe tIraq ministry tfound tthat tthe tnumber tof tdeaths twas t11 ttimes thigher tthan tthe American treports. tDuring tthe tIraq twar tmany thospitals twere tattacked tby the tarmed tforces. tAlthough tAmerican tforces talleged tthose thospitals tto tbe secretly tkeeping tweapons, tthough tthey tcouldn't tshow tany tconclusive proof.
The tUnited tNations t(UN) twhich tconsists tof tthe tworld tleaders tseems tto have tfailed tto tlive tup tto ttheir texpectations. tThe tUN tSecurity tCouncil didn't thave tany tsignificant tactivities tduring tthat twar. tClearly, tit treflects the tfact tthat tworld tleaders tdon't tbother tmuch tabout tmaintaining tthe IHL and tUN tis tincapable tof timplementing tthem tin tthe twar. tIn tmost twars, somehow tpowerful tcountries tare tinvolved. tIt tseems tpowerful tcountries make tlaws tonly tto tbreak tthem tat ttheir twill. tIHL, tunfortunately, tis tone of those ttitular tlaws twith tall tsorts tof thumane trules tbut tno treal implementation.