I have just been thumbing my copy of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, following the first inspection. It states clearly in article 18:
"Civilian hospitals organised to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
States which are Parties to a conflict shall provide all civilian hospitals with certificates showing that they are civilian hospitals and that the buildings which they occupy are not used for any purpose which would deprive these hospitals of protection in accordance with Article 19."
More pertinently perhaps, it continues:
"Civilian hospitals shall be marked by means of the emblem provided for in Article 38 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12th August, 1949, but only if so authorised by the State.
The Parties to the conflict shall, in so far as military considerations permit, take the necessary steps to make the distinctive emblems indicating civilian hospitals clearly visible to the enemy land, air and naval forces"— which addresses my right hon. Friend's intervention—
"in order to obviate the possibility of any hostile action."
There is a clear responsibility, whether on land or sea, for the states concerned to take all reasonable measures to ensure that a hospital or hospital ship is identified as such, so that no confusion can arise.
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