INSPECTIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS OF WAR CRIMES
UNITED STATES MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND, VIETNAM
APO San Francisco 96222
18 May 1968
INSPECTIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS
1. Purpose. To provide uniform procedures for the collection and perpetuation of evidence relative to war crimes incidents and to designate the agencies responsible for the conduct of investigations for alleged or possible violations of the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 For the Protection of War Victims.
2. Applicability. This directive is applicable to all alleged or possible war crimes violations of the subject Geneva Conventions, inflicted by hostile forces upon US military or civilian personnel assigned in Vietnam, or by US military personnel upon hostile military or civilan [sic] personnel.
a. War Crime. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime. (Chapter 8, DA Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, July 1956.)
b. Grave Breach. A grave breach of the Geneva Conventions is the most serious type of war crime. Examples of grave breaches are: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, taking of hostages, compelling a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile power.
c. Other War Crimes. Examples are: making use of poisoned or otherwise forbidden arms or ammunition, treacherous request for quarter, maltreatment of dead bodies, firing on localities which are undefended and without military significance, abuse of or firing on the flag of truce, misuse of the Red Cross emblem, use of civilian clothing by troops to conceal their military character during battle, poisoning of wells or streams, pillage or purposeless destruction, improper use of privileged buildings for military purposes, compelling prisoners of war to perform prohibited labor, killing
1. This directive supersedes MACV Directive 20-4 (0), 27 April 19**
spies or other persons who have committed hostile acts without trial, compelling civilians to perform prohibited labor, and violations of surrender terms.
4. Coordination. Investigations of alleged or possible war crimes will be coordinated with the Staff Advocate, MACV.
a. It is the responsibility of all military personnel having knowledge or receiving a report of an incident or of an act thought to be a war crime to make such incident known to his commanding officer as soon as practicable. Personnel performing investigative, intelligence, police, photographic, grave registration, or medical functions, as well as those in contact with the enemy, will, in the normal course of their duty, make every effort to detect the commission of war crimes and will report the essential facts to their commanding officer. Persons discovering war crimes will take all reasonable action under the circumstances to preserve physical evidence, to note identity of witnesses present, and to record (by photograph, sketch, or descriptive notes) the circumstances and surroundings.
b. Commanders and MACV staff sections receiving reports of probable war crimes will, in addition to any other required reports, report the facts as soon as practicable to the Staff Judge Advocate, MACV, and will make pertinent collateral information available to the appointing authority and investigating officers.
c. The Staff Judge Advocate, MACV will:
(1) Immediately notify the appropriate appointing authority (see paragraph 5d, below) of the receipt of a report of an alleged or possible war crime.
(2) Assist and advise the appointed investigating officer, in coordination with the Staff judge Advocate or Legal Officer of the appointing authority.
(3) Receive and review completed and approved investigations from the appointing authority.
(4) Maintain a file on all war crime investigations.
(5) Make appropriate recommendations to COMUSMACV concerning use of the evidence obtained and disposition of the report of investigation.
d. Appointing Authority:
(1) Appoint an investigating officer and, if appropriate, designate a qualified criminal investigator as technical assistant. Upon receipt of notification of an alleged or possible war crime concerning a member of his command, one of the following appointing authorities will, with all dispatch, appoint an investigating officer to prepare and transmit to him a report of investigation.
(a) Army. Officers who exercise General Court-martial jurisdiction (or their designees) are appointing authorities for cases involving personnel under their General Court-martial jurisdiction. The CG, US Army Element, USMACV (or his designee) is the appointing authority for cases involving US Army personnel assigned to USMACV and any other person believed
to be a US serviceman but not sufficiently identified or otherwise provided for by another appointing authority. Commanders of brigades (or their designees), who have a judge Advocate assigned to their staff, are appointing authorities for cases involving personnel of their brigades.
(b) Air Force. The Commander, 7th Air Force, (or his designee) is the appointing authority in cases involving US Air Force personnel.
(c) Navy. Commander, US Naval Forces, Vietnam, (or his designee) is the appointing authority in cases involving US Naval or Marine Corps personnel, except naval or marine personnel attached to Marine Corps commands.
(d) Marine Corps. The CG, III Marine Amphibious Force (or his designee) is the appointing authority in cases involving US Marine Corps personnel and naval personnel attached to Marine Corps commands.
(e) Coast Guard. Commander, Coast Guard Squadron #1 (or his designee) is the appointing authority in case involving US Coast Guard personnel.
(2) If two or more appointing authorities are concerned with the same incident, they will agree upon the appointment of one investigating officer, with such additional assistants as may be necessary, to make inquiry on behalf of all concerned.
(3) When the completed Report of Investigation (ROI) has been submitted to the appointing authority by the investigating officer, the appointing authority will receive, review, and, if appropriate, approve the report. Three copies of the ROI will be transmitted to COMUSMACV, ATTN: MACJA.
e. The investigating officer, with technical assistance furnished by qualified criminal investigators will:
(1) Promptly make inquiry to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged or apparent war crime, to include the following:
(a) Identity, organization, and status of victim.
(b) Nature of violation committed.
(c) Cause of injury or death and, manner in which injury or death occurred.
(d) Time and place of commission.
(e) Identity of individuals or organizations suspected of commission of the act.
(f) Names, identification, addresses (or units) of witnesses or suspected witnesses.
(2) Collect all necessary evidence, statements, and exhibits, to include:
(a) Medical or autopsy reports.
(b) Photographic evidence, preferably taken at the scene of discovery, and properly identified as to time, place, subject, witnesses, and photographer.
(c) Statements of witnesses of any of the circumstances surrounding the
incident and the discovery of evidence regarding the incident. Whenever practicable, statements should be under oath.
(d) Military reports, including after-action reports and those from intelligence sources, to identify suspected individuals and units.
(e) Physical evidence, such as weapons, clothing, bullets, shell casings, rope, etc., pertinent to the case.
(3) Without delay, prepare and submit his recommendations as to the disposition of the investigation report to the appointing authority. 6. Reports. Report by paragraph 5d, above, is exempt from reports control under the provisions of paragraph 390, AR 335-15.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
WALTER T. KERWIN, JR.
Major General, USA
Chief of Staff