Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Colombia sullies Red Cross

The government of Colombia admitted today that one of the squad that rescued 15 hostages from the FARC, including Ingrid Betancourt, wore the symbol of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is, believe it or not, a war crime, a violation of the Geneva Conventions which insist that the symbols of the ICRC may only be worn by Red Cross / Red Crescent personnel as a sign of their neutrality in conflicts -- the only soldiers permitted to wear the symbol are actual medics on duty carrying out their medical roles.

This sets a very dangerous precedent, even if it was as the Colombian government insists "an accident" and the soldier who donned the "Geneva International Committee" logo did so despite orders not to do so. Those responsible should be held accountable. We make contributions to the Red Cross in the knowledge that the money will go to the greatest need regardless of religion or political stance of the ultimate recipient. That standard should be held up to the utmost just as we insist the rules of war under the Geneva Conventions are upheld to the utmost also.

That we should be thankful that the hostages were rescued is beyond question. But even hostage rescuers have to play by the rules.

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