One of the pleasures of the Christmas season in the UK is that it is also the pantomime season. I will confess to being a relatively recent admirer of the “panto”. However I would never have guessed that a panto could be accused of violating IHL. Not raising issues about the violation of IHL but itself violating IHL! But in this panto season the British Red Cross has accused a panto of doing precisely this. And they have a point too! How so? See the story in Scotland’s Daily Record:
Must be a joke, right? Oh no it isn’t.
The head of international law at the British Red Cross has told Dean he may put lives at risk by using an emblem similar to theirs.
And he’s warned that the comic could be prosecuted under Convention law if he doesn’t change the colour of his cross to something “outside the red-related spectrum”.
Staff at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre, where Dean is playing Nurse Poltis in Robin Hood until January 22, were gobsmacked by the lawyer’s letter.
General manager Iain Gordon said last night: “I fully understand the good work of the British Red Cross but I really think their head of international law should be involved in more pressing matters.
“I’d imagine there are many breaches of the Geneva Convention throughout the world. A small red cross on a panto costume hardly endangers anyone.”
But Red Cross law chief Michael Meyer told the theatre in his letter: “Unauthorised use of this sign is an offence under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 (section 6, 1a).
“The reason for this strict control is that the red cross emblem is an internationally agreed symbol of protection during armed conflicts.
“If the emblem is used for other purposes, its special significance will be diminished and potentially lives may be lost.”
Dean has now been given a uniform with a green cross, and a Red Cross spokesman applauded the move.
He said: “We have no desire to be the villains of the pantomime or appear heavy-handed, but we do have a very serious obligation to protect the Red Cross emblem.”