UN experts say authorities have an obligation not to harm journalists and Abu Akleh’s killing could be ‘war crime’.
Published On 13 May 2022
A panel of United Nations human rights experts have condemned the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh and said it may constitute a war crime.
“Authorities are bound by international humanitarian law to safeguard journalists from harm and protect them under international human rights law.” The experts stated in the statement. According to the statement, Abu Akleh’s killing, which was clearly in her duty as a journalist, could be considered a war crime .”
Abu Akleh, a veteran reporter with Al Jazeera, was killed on Wednesday while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. Her uniform clearly identified her as journalist.
“We demand a prompt, independent, impartial, effective, thorough and transparent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” according to the statement.
” The killing of Abu Akleh is yet another attack on media freedom, given the increasing violence in the West Bank .”
Thousands of people jammed the streets in her hometown of Jerusalem Friday for her funeral and burial. Israeli police kicked and beat mourners with batons as they carried her body from the hospital in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, nearly causing the pallbearers to drop the coffin.
Israeli troops also attacked the hearse while it was carrying her body to seize Palestinian flags.
“Al Jazeera Media Network condemns this violence and holds the Israeli government completely responsible for the safety of all mourners and the families of our colleague Shireen,” the broadcaster stated in a Friday statement.
Abu Akleh was buried next to her parents at the Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery.
The UN experts said Abu Akleh’s killing came as violence has been on the increase in the occupied West Bank and Gaza in recent years. Last year, according to the statement, marked the highest number of Palestinian deaths resulting from confrontations with Israelis since 2014. This was also in the midst of a high number of attacks on Palestinian journalists.
At least Palestinian journalists have been killed since 2000, and hundreds more have been injured.
” The role of journalists is crucial, particularly in times of tensions and continuous abuses like those experienced by the occupied Palestinian Territory,” experts stated.
“Lacking accountability allows for the continuation of the litany extrajudicial executions. Journalist safety is crucial to guarantee freedom of expression .”
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The Israeli military said its initial investigation into Abu Akleh’s death showed that a heavy firefight was under way in Jenin approximately 200 metres (about 220 yards) from where she was killed, but that it was unable to determine whether she was shot by Israeli forces or Palestinian