Saturday, August 21, 2010

ICRC decries misuse of red cross emblem

International Committee of the Red Cross head of mission Mathias Weinreich has said that improper use of humanitarian emblems is inconsistent with the international humanitarian law. Weinreich made the remarks in Dar es Salaam recently, when addressing senior editors to acquaint them with the Red Cross missions and its mandate. He said any misuse of the emblem diminished its protective value and undermined the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. Weinreich cited the misuse of the Red Cross emblem by unauthorized people or bodies like commercial enterprises, pharmacists and private doctors, saying they were inconsistent with Red Cross’s fundamental principles. He says in other countries like Germany and France the law was very strict for those who misused the emblem, but in other countries there was no law which prohibited people or institutions from using the emblem. “It is difficult to eliminate this problem even in Tanzania because there is no law, which prohibits the use of the emblem by unauthorised people. What we need to do is to educate people on the emblem,” he said. According to him, some people might make money using the emblem, thus making a false impression about the Red Cross. Weinreich noted that the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems were entitled to full respect under the international law although sometimes were perceived as having cultural, religious or political connotations. “This jeopardises the protection they confer on the victims of armed conflict, medical services of the armed forces and humanitarian personnel,” he noted. To overcome the problem, an idea of introducing an additional emblem that would be acceptable to all societies and states was put forward. In 2005, a diplomatic conference recognised the Red Crystal, which is free from any religious, cultural or political connotations, as a distinctive emblem alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

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