“Delaying, diminishing and dismissing”: ICJP condemns systematic targeting of journalists and inaction one year on from Shireen Abu Akleh’s death

London, 11 May 2023– Today marks the one-year anniversary of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a long-time TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic. She was shot in the head and killed while covering Israeli army raids in Jenin while her colleague Ali Samoudi, a correspondent for Al Quds and producer for Al Jazeera, was shot in the shoulder and injured. Shatha Hanaysha, a journalist working with Ultra Palestine, was also targeted in the attack.  All three were wearing protective vests with the word “PRESS” in large white letters across their chests and backs when they were targeted.

Independent investigations by Bellingcat, CNN, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights all found that Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet fired by Israeli occupying forces. A joint investigative report by Forensic Architecture and Al Haq concluded that the Israeli army “deliberately and repeatedly targeted Shireen and her fellow journalists with the intention to kill”. A year after the attack, Israeli authorities have failed to properly investigate and hold to account those responsible.

In September 2022, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of Ali Samoudi, Shatha Hanaysha and the family of Shireen Abu Akleh, concerning the circumstances surrounding the attack. The communication was submitted in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS) and is being carried forward by leading human rights lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers.

The submission demonstrates that there are strong grounds to conclude that Israel has committed war crimes by systematically targeting journalists working in Palestine and failing to properly investigate killings of media workers.

Despite official acknowledgment of the submission in December 2022, there has been no substantive response from the Office of the Prosecutor. The Al-Haq and Forensic Architecture joint investigative report was submitted to the Court in November 2022, but they have not received an acknowledgement to date.

A new report has also been released this week by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which found that Israel’s lack of response to Shireen’s death is part of a systemic pattern of sidestepping accountability. The report also concluded that inquiries were slow, opaque and only opened reluctantly, amid international pressure. In the twenty cases included in the report, none resulted in prosecution and in some cases, soldiers were cleared of killings while inquiries are still in progress.

Tayab Ali, Co-Director at ICJP, said:

“In the year since Shireen’s death, Israel has continued its strategy of delaying, diminishing and dismissing any proper independent investigation.

The evidence shows that Shireen’s killing was deliberate and targeted. This is not an isolated incident, but part of Israel’s ongoing strategy of systematically targeting journalists to prevent the truth being told to the world.

A free press is a cornerstone of democracy. The press ensure we keep politicians accountable for what they do. Any country that hides its international law violations by targeting and killing journalists with impunity loses the right to be called a democracy.

The ICC must live up to its responsibilities and pursue the perpetrators of Shireen’s killing with the same fervour that it did for war criminals in Ukraine. The ICC and international community must ensure that international law and the accountability for its violations are consistent whoever the perpetrators are. Failing to do so will have serious and unthinkable consequences for international rules-based system everywhere.”



Notes for editors

1.   The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.

2.     The report released this week by the Committee to Protect Journalists can be found here: Deadly Pattern: 20 journalists died by Israeli military fire in 22 years. No one has been held accountable.

3.    The joint investigative report by Al Haq and Forensic Architecture can be found here: Shireen Abu Akleh: The extrajudicial killing of a journalist.

4.      For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact: Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, at [email protected].

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