An Australian Red Cross survey has found that more than 40 per cent of Australians believe it is acceptable to torture enemy soldiers in certain circumstances.
The survey of more than 1000 people found two in five believed torturing to obtain important military information was OK, even though most knew it was illegal.
Results also showed that Australians were more cynical about the laws of war than those from war-torn countries.
Nearly half of respondents to the Red Cross survey said the Geneva Conventions made no difference to wars. A global poll of war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Liberia found that 85 per cent of people believed the Geneva Conventions limited the suffering of civilians in war time.
More than 90 per cent of those surveyed were also aware that the Red Cross emblem protected people and objects during times of armed conflict, but only 28 per cent were aware that it is illegal to use the emblem without the permission of the Minister of Defence.
The "People on War" survey was released to mark the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.