Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) in partnership with NTV Uganda has since February 2023 been running a digital campaign aimed at sensitizing the general public on safeguarding and prevention of misuse of the ‘Red cross emblem’ using the hashtag #RedCrossEmblemUG. The campaign which is set to run for 6 months until July 2023 has already reached 126,255 people.
The Director of Communications, Resource Mobilization, and Strategic Partnerships at Uganda Red Cross Society, Irene Nakasiita said that the #RedCrossEmblemUG campaign follows several instances of the red cross emblem misuse in Uganda by hospitals, clinics, civilians and branding of medical equipment, first aid kits and ambulances. “Misuse of the red cross emblem by unauthorized people puts those in need of help during times of emergencies at risk because of the emblem confusion it creates.” Nakasiita added that the red cross emblem has two functions:
1) Protective Function
The Emblem is used as a visible sign of protection by relief workers and medical personnel, facilities and means of transport, as conferred by the Geneva conventions and their additional protocols. In this case, the emblem should be as large as possible and displayed with no other information.
There are 3 types of emblems that are currently being used by the Red cross movement worldwide to include:
The Red Cross: Adopted under the original Geneva Convention of 1864. Its design is an inversion of the Swiss flag, recognizing the historic connection between Switzerland and the original Geneva Convention.
The Red Crescent: Created during the late 1800s to avoid perceived religious connotations of the Red Cross emblem in certain countries. It was formally recognized in the updated Geneva Convention of 1929.
The Red Crystal: Established in 2005 to increase protection in situations where the existing emblems may not be respected as neutral.
2) Indicative Function
The Emblem is used as a visible sign to link a person or an object with the Red Cross movement. In this case, the emblem must be small in dimension and should bear additional information for instance the name or initials of the national society and may not be placed on armlets or on top of roofs of buildings in order to avoid any confusion with the emblem used as a protective device.
In Uganda, Section 3 of the Red Cross Act gives exclusive use of the Red Cross as a sign to the Uganda Red Cross Society while Section 170 of the Penal Code of Uganda further criminalizes the abuse of the Red Cross Emblem by any other organization.
The Red cross emblem can be misused in various ways including:
- Imitation: the use of the sign which, owing to its shape and/ or color, may be confused with one of the emblems.
- Improper use: Any use of the distinctive emblem inconsistent with the relevant rules of international humanitarian law such as the use of the emblem by unauthorized people or bodies (commercial enterprises, pharmacists, private doctors, NGOs, ordinary individuals etc.) or for purposes that are inconsistent with the movement fundamental principles.
- Perfidy: the use of the distinctive emblem during an armed conflict in order to protect combatants and military equipment with intent to mislead the adversary. Perfidious use of the emblem, when causing death or serious injury is considered a war crime.
Below are some of the posts by NTV Uganda across their digital platforms