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Geneva Conventions

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice his Department gives British troops in theatre on their requirements under the Geneva Convention. (303565)

Aspects of the Geneva Convention are applied throughout military training and will be bolstered before deployment to an operational theatre by further mandatory training, common across all the Services. Irrespective of the theatre to which a person is deploying, specific training based on the Geneva Convention as applied to UK law must be fulfilled. This training includes: compliance with operational law, such as the legal basis for operations, the law of armed conflict, the application of the rules of engagement, the use of force, prisoner handling, understanding the powers of stop and search and the powers of arrest; culture and language training, including cultural awareness; firepower training, including identifying and engaging targets and reacting to fire control orders; and protection training, including procedures for challenging and reaction to direct and indirect attack.

All deployed personnel are issued a rules of engagement card, which specifies exactly the aspects of the law that allows them to conduct operations and react to hostile action.

Role specific training that covers the pertinent application of the Geneva Convention is also undertaken. For example, dedicated prisoner handling teams and medics are briefed in depth of their responsibilities that may be in addition to those usually held.

Trained and qualified lawyers are deployed on all standing operations and are an integral part of the targeting process, are consulted on all forms of the conduct of operations and are available for specialist queries if doubt exists.