Journalist Federation Submitte Israel to International Criminal Court

London, MINA – A lawsuit accusing Israel of systematically targeting journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate the killing of media workers, considered a war crime, has been submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Syndicate of Palestinian Journalists (PJS) and the Center for International Justice for Palestine (ICJP) in collaboration with prominent human rights lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers filed a formal complaint with the ICC in early April 2022.

The ICC Prosecutor’s Office (OPT) officially acknowledged the receipt of the complaint filed last Monday.

According to a report by the Palestinian News Agency WAFA on Thursday, complaints alleging war crimes against journalists by the Israeli occupation forces to date will be considered by the OPT and may lead to a formal investigation and prosecution.

The complaint details the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists on behalf of the four named victims – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Amarneh and Nedal Eshtayeh – who were killed or maimed as a result of attacks by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. At the time they were shot, they were all wearing clearly marked ‘PRESS’ vests.

The complaint also details the targeting of attacks on media facilities and the bombing of the AlShorouk and AlJawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021 including the cases of Alam News, Al-Hayat Newspaper, Media Mayadeen, Al-Bawaba 24 and others.

The IFJ has repeatedly condemned the deliberate targeting of journalists and media facilities by Israel. At least 46 journalists have been killed since 2000 and no one has been held accountable.

In December 2020, the IFJ and PJS filed a complaint with the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) explaining how the systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate the killings of media workers violated the right to life and freedom of expression, violated international humanitarian law, and can be considered a war crime.

The UNSR lawsuit also details the discrimination, violations of freedom of movement and restrictions on press accreditation suffered by Palestinian journalists.

With continued impunity, targeting continues. In May 2021, Israel bombed media facilities in Gaza. At least two journalists were killed and 100 others injured in separate incidents.

“The targeting of journalists and media organizations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression. This crime should be fully investigated. This systematic targeting must stop,” said IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger.

“We are proud to work with PJS, ICJP, Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers to ensure those responsible for crimes against journalists are held accountable,” he added.

Legal Advisors for the group, Jennifer Robinson, and Tatyana Eatwell, from Doughty Street Chambers said: “The cases communicated to the ICC Prosecutors are symbolic of the ongoing systematic attacks and use of lethal force against journalists and media organizations in Palestine by the occupation forces.

These journalists and media organizations were targeted and assaulted under circumstances that gave rise to reasonable grounds for suspecting that war crimes and crimes against humanity had occurred.

Given the impunity that the perpetrators of these attacks continue to enjoy, the victims are now asking the ICC Prosecutor to use his jurisdiction and powers to investigate and act against impunity.

To communicate to the international community at large that journalists working on the front lines in situations of armed conflict, crisis and political upheaval is not fair game.

Director of ICJP and Mitra Bindmans LLP Tayab Ali, said, a free press is the foundation of democracy. “Targeting journalists in conflict zones anywhere in the world is unacceptable and must have severe consequences for those who try to hide their crimes and abuses by killing or injuring journalists,” he concluded.

On 5 February 2021, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber accepted that it has jurisdiction over the situation in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “We are confident that the ICC will investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes alleged in our complaint,” the council said in a statement.

“There is no more important time than now for the ICC and the international community to send a clear signal to States, which advance their own interests through war crimes, that they will not enjoy impunity but will instead be promptly held accountable for their violations. “added Ali. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)