I see that Dave has tried the "Human Watch" BS again despite showing him last time he brought it up that is is imaginative BS.
The 4th Convention can be located here and each of the articles cited in the Human Watch article can be located and refused based on the whole of the Convention.
They cite Art 27, 32 and 146 as their main "proofs".
Art 27 has a provision they completely ignore - "However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war." This allows such things as incarceration or forced relocation if deemed necessary. Such relocations were commonplace BEFORE declaring areas as Free Fire Zones. (Articles 41, 42, 49 and 78 spell this out and some of the reasons requiring it.)
Art 32 is more of the same and again relocation was used to protect the persons.
Art 146 concerns investigation procedures for alleged actives that breech the concept of protection of Civilian Persons in time of war. Alleged cases were investigated.
Article 4 again is less than adequately addressed in the Human Watch article as again they ignore what is inconvenient to their thesis and that is that "Persons protected by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949, or by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of 12 August 1949, or by the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949, shall not be considered as protected persons within the meaning of the present Convention." Again, the relocation of civilians was a protection that, in a gurilla environment, allows the presumption that those found in the area later are covered by a different Convention dealing not with civilians but with combatants.
Article 14 provides for the creation of zones (not just Hospital and Safety zones either) and Free Fire Zones are one type.
Article 147 in its last paragraph addresses criminal acts but in each and every instance MILITARY NECESSITY trumps (this is why allowable collateral damage is a consideration of importance--it is driven by military necessity). Freefire zones were established for DISCRIMINATE ATTACK for military purposes and preservation rather than indiscriminate attack as Human Watch and Kerry would have one believe.
Regardless of the declaration of zones however general orders held that one fired on only those carrying observable weapons or engaged in suspicious activies of a militant nature (such as moving or concealing supplies). Matter of fact the in addition to a Status of forces card everyone had one that said in part "?use your firepower with care and discrimination, particularly in populated areas.? "