Shireen Abu Akleh: Lawyers submit complaint to ICC over Palestinian journalist's killing

Shireen Abu Akleh: Lawyers submit complaint to ICC over Palestinian journalist's killing
3 min read
20 September, 2022
A complaint has been submitted to the ICC by a group of lawyers over veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's killing last May by Israeli forces.
The complaint over Shireen Abu Akleh's killing was delivered to the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor on Tuesday [Twitter/@ShireenNasri-file photo]

A complaint over the killing of veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday.

A press conference to announce the complaint's submission began at 11am local time in The Hague in the Netherlands, with the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) saying "lawyers intended to hand-deliver" it prior to the conference.

The meeting features lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers, plus representatives from the ICJP, International Federation of Journalists and Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate.

"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," ICJP director and Bindmans partner Tayab Ali said in a press release.

"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."

Renowned Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead as she covered an Israeli military raid at Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on 11 May.

The complaint, which was set to be delivered to the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), also concerns Al Jazeera producer Ali Samoudi, who was shot and wounded in the same incident but survived.

It comes after a "communication" was filed with the ICC in April calling on the OTP to launch a probe of the "systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists… and media infrastructure", the ICJP said in its press release.

The ICJP said these media workers include Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh and that "all journalists represented in both complaints were wearing clearly marked PRESS vests at the time they were targeted".

It added that lawyers from Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers are representing the victims, journalists and human rights groups.

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An ICJP spokesperson told The New Arab "we believe that a proper independent and impartial investigation" into the Abu Akleh and Samoudi incident "would serve to strengthen the evidence in front of the OTP regarding the systematic targeting of journalists and media infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territory".

Tayab Ali said in the ICJP's press release: "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."

The Abu Akleh family, Samoudi and journalist Shatha Hanaysha, who was next to Abu Akleh when she was shot, asked for Tuesday's complaint to be submitted.

Shireen's brother Anton Abu Akleh is to address the press conference, representing her family.

Palestinian legal rights group Al-Haq and the Forensic Architecture research agency will discuss results from their forensic investigation of Abu Akleh's killing.

The complaint comes after Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki in May told Turkish news agency Anadolu the PA had "submitted a file" about Abu Akleh's killing "alongside other Israeli violations" to the ICC prosecutor.

That month, Al Jazeera also said it would file a case to the ICC over its reporter's death.