The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) and International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) have been asked by the family of Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, and by journalist Ali Samoudi, to submit a new complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) about the circumstances surrounding Ms Abu Akleh’s death and Mr Samoudi’s shooting on 11 May 2022.
Bindmans LLP has been instructed to submit this complaint, and represent the victims at the ICC.
A long-time TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, Shireen Abu Akleh was killed while covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin. Ali Samoudi, who was present when Shireen Abu Akleh was killed was also shot in the shoulder. Ali Samoudi is able to provide crucial witness testimony with regards to his own shooting and the death of Shireen Abu Akleh. There are strong grounds to believe that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed, and Ali Samoudi was shot, by Israeli armed forces. Both join a long list of journalists targeted by the Israeli armed forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The new complaint follows the April 2022 submission to the court which requested that the ICC Prosecutor launch an investigation into the systematic targeting, maiming and killing of journalists, and destruction of media infrastructure in Palestine. Shireen Abu Akleh was killed only days after the ICC prosecutor acknowledged receipt of the first complaint.
On 5 February 2021, the International Criminal Court ruled that its criminal jurisdiction extended to ‘the Situation in Palestine,’ and that its territorial scope covered allegations that occurred in ‘Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem’. This presents for the first time, a real opportunity for the accountability of Israel’s alleged policy of targeting journalists and could lead to a formal investigation by the ICC Prosecutor, and potential prosecutions.
The group’s April 2022 complaint details the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists on behalf of four named victims – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh – who were also killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. All were wearing clearly marked PRESS vests at the time they were shot. The complaint also details the targeting of media infrastructure including the bombing of the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021.
Tayab Ali, partner at Bindmans LLP and Director of the ICJP, comments:
Shireen’s family and Ali have trusted us to bring what happened to them to the attention of the International Criminal Court.
Shireen is not anonymous or a statistic. She was not a terrorist. She was one of us. She dedicated her life to one of the most important principles in a democracy – freedom of speech.
As a journalist, Shireen’s work ensured that the world knew what was happening in Palestine. Journalists like Shireen and Ali are crucial in holding governments that violate international law to account. Israel’s belligerent and excessive use of force has led to irreversible damage and the killing of innocent journalists. This can no longer be allowed to continue.
The international community’s inaction in the situation in Palestine is tantamount to complicity in violations of international law. We are determined in our legal work to reverse Israel’s ongoing impunity.
There could not be a more important time than now for the ICC and international community to send a clear signal to States that further their own interests through criminal acts that they will not have impunity but will instead be swiftly held to account for their violations.