The IPI global network mourns the death of the French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, who was tragically killed by Russian shelling in the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine on May 30. Leclerc-Imhoff had been a cameraman and reporter for the national TV station BFMTV since 2016. We express our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. 

Leclerc-Imhoff had been covering the evacuation efforts in the Luhansk region, which has become a focal point of fighting by Russian forces in recent weeks. According to BFMTV, Leclerc-Imhoff was following a humanitarian operation in an armored vehicle when he was struck by shrapnel from a Russian grenade. Two colleagues, Maxime Brandstaette and Oksana Leuta, were also injured, according to reports

“IPI is deeply saddened by the death of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, and our thoughts are with his family and colleagues”, said IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette. “We call for an immediate and independent investigation into the circumstances of his death to determine if the humanitarian convoy was intentionally targeted by Russian forces, which would constitute a war crime under international law.” 

The French president Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences to Leclerc-Imhoff’s family and colleagues, saying that the journalist was in Ukraine “to show the reality of war”. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement calling for an independent investigation into Leclerc-Imhoff’s death, and reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to press freedom and the protection of journalists. In a separate press release, French foreign minister Catherine Colonna condemned the attack on a humanitarian convoy and reiterated the need for an independent investigation. The French national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office has also launched a investigation into the journalist’s death. 

Eight journalists and media workers in Ukraine have so far been killed in the line of duty since February 24, according to IPI’s monitoring data. There is evidence at least two more may have been killed by Russian troops in occupied territory in apparent connection to their profession. 

As underscored in the Perugia Declaration for Ukraine, those responsible for the killing of journalists must be held accountable and brought to justice under national and international law.