International Federation of Journalists instructs counsel for ICC complaint over systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists

Tatyana Eatwell and Jennifer Robinson have been instructed by Bindmans and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), working with the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), to prepare a complaint to the ICC over the systematic targeting of journalists by Israel in Palestine.

Legal submissions will allege that there are strong grounds to conclude that Israel’s systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers amount to war crimes and are to be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC). At a press conference held today in Ramallah to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the PJS and IFJ announced their intention to file an ICC complaint.

The complaint will detail the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists on behalf of four named victims – Ahmed Abu Hussein, Yaser Murtaja, Muath Armaneh and Nedal Eshtayet – who were killed or maimed by Israeli snipers while covering demonstrations in Gaza. All were wearing clearly marked PRESS vests at the time they were shot.  The complaint will also include the targeting of media and bombing of the the Al-Shorouk and Al-Jawhara Towers in Gaza City in May 2021 including the cases of Alam News, Al Hayat Newspapers, Mayadeen Media, Al Bawaba 24 and others.

In December 2020, the IFJ and PJS submitted complaints to the UN Special Rapporteurs (UNSR) setting out how the systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate killings of media workers violates the right to life and freedom of expression, is in breach of international humanitarian law, and may amount to war crimes. The UNSR complaint also raised broader issues affecting Palestinian journalists, including discrimination, violations of freedom of movement and restrictions on press accreditation.

The IFJ represents 600,000 journalists worldwide. 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 to account.  With ongoing impunity, the targeting has continued. In May 2021, Israel bombed media facilities in Gaza. At least two journalists were killed and another 100 injured in separate incidents. In June this year, Ms Robinson addressed the Human Rights Council on behalf of the IFJ to call for the protection of Palestinian journalists and for accountability for the targeting of journalists.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The targeting of journalists and media organisations in Palestine violates the right to life and freedom of expression. These crimes must be fully investigated. This systematic targeting must stop.

“The journalists and their families deserve justice and the IFJ working with the PJS, ICJP, Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers is determined to ensure those responsible for crimes against journalists are held accountable”.