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34 rights groups demand independent investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

We, the undersigned organisations, call for an immediate, thorough, and independent investigation into the killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in an attack in the West Bank on May 11 that also left another journalist wounded. We demand that the government of Israel and all other states fulfil their responsibility to ensure that crimes against journalists are fully investigated and prosecuted.

The killing of Abu Akleh, one of Palestine’s most widely respected journalists who had reported from the West Bank for decades, has shocked many in the region and around the world. According to Al Jazeera, Abu Akleh and three other journalists came under fire from Israeli soldiers while reporting on an Israeli military raid of a refugee camp in the city of Jenin on the West Bank. The reporters were wearing vests and helmets, clearly marked as “press.” Abu Akleh was shot in the face and Al Jazeera producer Ali Al-Samoudi was shot in the back. Al-Samoudi was treated for gunshot wounds and released from the hospital.


Eyewitness accounts, video documentation and media reports indicating that these journalists may have been deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers have made this case all the more alarming. An analysis by independent investigative teams with Bellingcat concluded that the gunfire came from Israeli soldiers and that the shots seem to have been “both aimed and deliberate.”


We call attention to this latest case as one of a wider pattern of violence against journalists and media workers in Palestine. At least 23 journalists in Palestine have been killed since 2002, according to UNESCO data, and hundreds have been injured by or targeted with violence.

In May 2021, Israeli forces bombed the media offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera in Gaza Strip. That same month, an Israeli airstrike killed Voice of Al-Aqsa reporter Yousef Abu Hussein in his home. In 2018, Palestinian journalists Yaser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu Hussein were also killed while covering the Gaza border protests. Advocacy groups, including the International Federation of Journalists, have cited these cases in a recent submission to the International Criminal Court on the “systematic targeting of journalists” in the occupied Palestinian territory.


The duty to investigate: Ending impunity for crimes against journalists

States have a duty to investigate attacks on journalists promptly, thoroughly, and independently, and to prosecute those responsible. This obligation is well established in international and regional human rights instruments, as well as in numerous UN protocols and resolutions, requiring states to provide effective remedy for human rights abuses.


Israel is among the many states around the world that are failing to meet this obligation. A vast majority of murders of journalists go unresolved, which has fueled a culture of rampant impunity for violence and crimes against the press on a global level.

The obligation to investigate crimes against journalists does not disappear in a conflict zone. On the contrary, authorities are legally bound under international law and international humanitarian law to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers in situations of conflict. Moreover, a deliberate attack on a journalist during a situation of armed conflict constitutes a war crime.

The killing of Shireen Abu Akleh represents a particularly egregious attack on the press, not least because of credible reports that Abu Akleh and other journalists were intentionally targeted by Israeli forces, but also in light of growing concerns over impunity for crimes against journalists and other grave human rights abuses by Israel in the occupied Palestine territory. The Israeli government’s recent announcement that it will not investigate this killing only adds to these concerns.


We, the undersigned organisations, demand concrete action by states and other duty bearers, including international governmental organisations (IGOs) with a specific mandate in this area, to fulfil their duty to protect the safety of journalists and to ensure that attacks against the press are not carried out with impunity. 

We call for:


• The government of Israel to uphold its international obligations to conduct a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and to prosecute those responsible. This investigation must include the full involvement of independent international experts or observers and must follow UN protocols for conducting investigations into human rights abuses.

• In parallel, an international task force to investigate this attack and to ensure credibility and impartiality of procedures and outcomes. Ideally, such a task force would be led by UN special rapporteurs with mandates that include oversight over issues related to the safety of journalists or human rights abuses. This follows the precedent set by the investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi initiated by Dr. Agnes Callamard, former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2019. This investigation must include the full involvement of independent international experts, as well as participation and input by journalists and civil society.


• In the absence of an independent and impartial investigation by the government of Israel, the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s killing and the attack on Abu Akleh and her colleagues to determine if this incident amounts to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the ICC.


• Governments, particularly allies of Israel, to hold Israel accountable to its international obligations to protect the safety of the press and for ending impunity for crimes against journalists in Palestine. Governments must also urge Israel to fully cooperate with any international inquiries into this crime as well as with other investigations into human rights abuses by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories.


• Governments to take clear measures to end impunity for crimes against journalists at the global and local levels, including through multilateral institutions and coalitions. This includes prioritising support for the creation of a standing, international multi-stakeholder task force to investigate threats and crimes against journalists, involving the participation of UN special rapporteurs, civil society, media and journalists worldwide.



Article 19

Association for International Broadcasting

7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media

Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)

Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia (CIJ)

Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI)

Globe International Center

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

I’lam Media Centre

Independent Journalism Center Moldova (IJC)

Index on Censorship

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Maharat Foundation – Lebanon

Media Action Nepal

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

Media Watch Bangladesh

Mediacentar Sarajevo

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

PEN Canada

PEN International

PEN Norway

Public Media Alliance


South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression- SCM

World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)

World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)

Four journalists arrested in Egypt

NEW YORK: Egyptian authorities should immediately drop all charges against four journalists arrested in Cairo this week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The three journalists still in detention told their lawyer security forces had beaten and electrocuted them during interrogation.
Photojournalists Hamdy Mokhtar, Mohamed Hassan, and Osama al-Bishbishi were arrested on September 26 while filming near the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo, according to news reports and local press freedom organizations. Correspondent Noura Nasser was arrested on September 27 while covering a protest, also in downtown Cairo. All four journalists have been charged with "publishing false news," among other accusations.
"The delusion that jailing journalists on charges of reporting 'false news' for interviewing people on the street or photographing a protest will change reality is a false hope," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "We call on Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against journalists Hamdy Mokhtar, Mohamed Hassan, and Osama al-Bishbishi, and Noura Nasser without delay."
Each of the three journalists arrested on September 26 works with a different privately owned outlet, but were arrested together while interviewing passersby for their opinions on a recent initiative by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi encouraging Egyptians to donate their spare change in order to fund national projects, an initiative that sparked ridicule on social media.
Security forces arrested them on the spot, without stating any clear reason, according to a statement published by news website al-Naba'a, Hassan's employer. Al-Bishbishi is a photographer and cameraman with the news websiteBaladi. Mokhtar is a freelance photographer who works with the newspaper el-Shaab el-Jadeed, which is generally supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership ousted in 2013.
The three journalists were interrogated by prosecutors and officers from Egypt's domestic intelligence agency throughout the night of September 27, lawyers Fatema Serag and Nourhan Hassan told the Egyptian press freedom groupJournalists Against Torture Observatory. The next morning, prosecutors charged all three with belonging to a banned organization, inciting violence and terrorism online, and publishing false news. Prosecutors ordered them held in pretrial detention for a renewable 15 days.
The lawyer Hassan, who is also Mohamed Hassan's sister, said in her statementthat all three journalists said they had been beaten, kicked, and electrocuted in custody. She said that Mokhtar had shown the worst signs of physical abuse, with visible bruises to his neck and back.
CPJ called the main phone line and emailed the human rights desk at the Ministry of Interior for comment on the arrests and the allegations of abuse yesterday and today, but received no response.
Mokhtar was arrested in July 2015, while at the state morgue covering the arrival of bodies of alleged Muslim Brotherhood members who had been killed by security forces. He was released on bail two months later. In January 2016, a court sentenced him in absentia to three years in prison for publishing false news.
In a separate case, Noura Nasser, a correspondent and photographer for the opposition news website Masr al-Arabia, was arrested while covering a protest organized by graduate students in front of the cabinet building in downtown Cairo on September 27, according to her employer. Nasser, who is better known as Nermeen Fathy, was released late yesterday, but still faces charges of "publishing false news," spreading information on social media on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, and "harming national unity," Masr al-Arabia reported yesterday