The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 71st annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on September 8, 2022 in New York City, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling for full justice for the killing of Palestinian-American journalist and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh.
On May 11, 2022, Abu Akleh – a household name across the Arab world for her fearless and professional reporting on the Palestininan conflict – was killed by Israeli sniper fire while reporting on the ground about an Israeli military raid on a refugee camp in West Bank city of Jenin. Israel initially denied responsibility, despite the publication of several independent reports indicating that Abu Akleh had been targeted by Israeli fire. In September, the Israeli authorities admitted that there was a “high possibility” that Abu Akleh had been “accidentally” hit by its forces, but refused to pursue a further investigation or any charges against soldiers involved.
The lack of real accountability for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh is unacceptable. Israel has an obligation under international and regional human rights instruments to promptly and thoroughly investigate attacks on journalists, as IPI and 34 other international rights groups emphasized in a joint statement earlier this year. That obligation does not disappear in a conflict zone.
In light of the abject failure of the Israeli government to investigate this crime in accordance with international law, we call for a U.S.-led investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, who was an American citizen. This investigation must be transparent, credible, and independent. The Biden administration and the U.S. State Department must follow through on their calls for a “full and transparent accounting” of this killing.
We also call for a full International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s killing and the attack on her colleagues to determine if this incident amounts to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Impunity for attacks on journalists is a global scourge, a driver of further violence against the press, and a direct attack on the public’s right to information, and on democracy itself. The IPI global network demands an end to the ongoing, intolerable impunity in the killing of our World Press Freedom Hero Shireen Abu Akleh and calls on the international community to press for justice and ensure that her case is not forgotten.