At 10am BST on the morning of 20 September 2022, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) held a press conference announcing the submission of a new complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the killing of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the shooting of journalist Ali Samoudi. Ms Abu Akleh was killed and Mr Samoudi was shot on 11 May 2022, whilst covering raids conducted by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) in Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank.
The conference brought together lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers, along with representatives from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), and the ICJP, who were asked by the Abu Akleh family, Ali Samoudi and Shatha Hanaysha to submit this new complaint. The complaint was hand-delivered to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) prior to the conference. The conference was also joined by Anton Abu Akleh, Shireen’s brother, who spoke on behalf of the family.
Shireen Abu Akleh and Ali Samoudi join a long list of journalists targeted by the IOF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). A previous communication was submitted to the ICC in April 2022 which requested that the OTP open an investigation into the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists (including Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh), and media infrastructure by the IOF. All journalists represented in both complaints were wearing clearly marked PRESS vests at the time they were targeted. The victims, journalists and human rights groups are represented by lawyers from Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers.
On 3 March 2021, the OTP announced the opening of the investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine following the ICC’s ruling that it could exercise its criminal jurisdiction in the situation, 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 OTP and potential prosecutions.
Tayab Ali, partner at Bindmans and Director of the ICJP, comments:
The victims in our complaints, including Shireen Abu Akleh’s family, have entrusted us to bring what happened to them to the attention of the International Criminal Court. Despite the vast amount of evidence pointing to the unlawful killing of Shireen at the hands of an Israeli soldier, she continues to be denied the basic right of a proper independent investigation, and for anyone to be held accountable for her killing.
A free press is the cornerstone of a democracy. Journalists are crucial in holding governments that violate international law to account. Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists cannot be allowed to continue.
We call on the OTP to meet with the victims and investigate the crimes alleged in our complaints. There cannot be a more important time than now for the ICC and international community to send a clear signal to Israel that it cannot continue to act with impunity.
Watch the full press conference here.