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Grounds for Justification and the Scope of Self-Defence in Combat Situations

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Chapter Summary

Grounds for justification are those circumstances that make attacks directed at civilians or civilian objects and disproportionate attacks lawful. The question arises as to whether non-combatants who do not actively participate in the hostilities lose their protection as a result of resorting to armed violence in order to save their lives or that of others against members of the enemy?s armed forces who are attacking them unlawfully. For example, do Hutu civilians who do not actively participate in the hostilities lose their protected status as a result of throwing stones at the members of the Interahamwe militia who approach them armed with machetes with the intent to kill them? The answer to these questions depends on the scope of application of self-defence in combat situations. If one considers that self-defence is not applicable in this context, the Hutu civilians in the above-mentioned example would lose their protected status.

Keywords: civilian objects; civilians justification; combat situations; self-defence



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