IRRC No. 263

The question of superior orders and the responsibility of Commanding Officers in the Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of intern...

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Much has been written on the question of orders from a superior officer. The problem is too complex for any simple reply. The national legislation to which soldiers are subject renders any member of the armed forces who refuses to carry out an order liable to presocution for a penal offence. In serious cases and especially in time of war military penal codes generally provide that the judge may sentence the offender to death. However the plea of superior orders does not necessarily relieve a military subordinate of penal responsibility for a violation of international humanitarian law committed in carrying out those orders.

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