RealNews

Rumsfeld: Human shields' use is war crime

With around 30 Western volunteer “human shields” now in Baghdad and more on their way, Pentagon officials Wednesday warned that any Iraqi military personnel who put those civilians at risk would be violating international law and could face war crimes charges. “International law draws a clear distinction between civilians and combatants. The principle that civilians must be protected lies at the heart of international law of armed conflict. It is the distinction between combatants and innocent civilians that terrorism, and practices like the use of human shields, so directly assaults,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon press briefing. “If death or serious injury to a noncombatant resulted from these efforts, the individuals responsible for deploying any innocent civilians as human shields could be guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,” added Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers. Saddam Hussein has a history of using human shields — albeit involuntary ones — to discourage attacks. Full Story

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