Apology after Red Cross symbol worn by rescuer

The Colombian government has apologized to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after the organisation's insignia was worn during a hostage rescue.

This content was published on July 16, 2008 - 20:12

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said on Wednesday that a member of the military mission that tricked Colombian rebels into freeing 15 hostages on July 2 had been wearing the insignia.

"An officer mistakenly and contrary to orders ... put a piece of cloth on his vest that carried the symbol of the International Committee of the Red Cross," he said in a speech in Bogota.

The cloth is visible in a video of the mission that was officially released. Use of the symbol in such a military operation violates the Geneva Conventions that protect the ICRC's reputation for neutrality in conflicts.

Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos and top generals met with the ICRC on Wednesday to offer an explanation.

The ICRC said it was "very important" Colombia had admitted the misuse of the symbol. "Respect for the emblem is crucial in order for the ICRC to aid people affected by conflicts in Colombia or elsewhere," said a spokesman.

Colombian military intelligence agents managed to rescue the hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American military contractors, by posing as members of a fake international humanitarian group.

This article was automatically imported from our old content management system. If you see any display errors, please let us know:

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?