NUJ supports UN complaints against Israel's treatment of Palestinian journalists

  • 09 Dec 2020

The complaint relates to Israel's systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine and its failure to properly investigate the killings of media workers.

The NUJ has backed its sister union in Palestine and the International Federation of Journalists in complaints to the UN relating to systematic targeting of journalists working in Palestine by Israel and its failure to properly investigate the killings of media workers.

The complaints to the UN state that Israel's actions are a breach of international law and amount to war crimes. They are also a violation of the right to life and freedom of expression, and show systematic targeting of media workers, the use of excessive lethal force, discrimination and impunity.

The two IFJ complaints to the UN have been submitted to Irene Khan, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and Agnès Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

They have been made jointly by the IFJ and the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) and were drafted by leading human rights lawyers at Doughty Street Chambers in London.

The special rapporteurs will also be asked to investigate:

  • The killing of Ahmed Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja in 2018
  • The maiming of two photographers Muath Amarneh in 2019 and Nedal Eshtayeh in 2015, who were both shot by snipers in the eye.

According to the UN complaint these four cases are "emblematic of the systematic targeting by IDF personnel of journalists working in Palestine… where the individuals could be clearly identified as journalists constitute particularly grave violations of the right to life, and the freedom of expression, and show a flagrant disregard for the rule of law".

The lethal targeting of journalists is accompanied by systematic discrimination against Palestinian journalists including lack of access to press accreditation and restrictions on freedom of movement.

The complaints ask the special rapporteurs to secure justice and accountability for the killings and harm that has been inflicted on journalists. They also urge the special rapporteurs to investigate endemic, systematic discrimination that curtails the work of Palestinian journalists.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:

"For years the world has documented and deplored the killing and maiming of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces and the daily discrimination they face – denied rights, denied accreditation, denied freedom of movement and, as a result of a blanket impunity, denied justice. Words can no longer be enough. The UN must take action and show it will not stand idly by and allow impunity and injustice to continue unchallenged."

Nasser Abubaker, PJS president, said:

"We live daily with the systematic targeting, the impunity, watching soldiers kill our colleagues, blind those who document the occupation and the protests against it. No-one ever faces justice for their crimes against our colleagues. For them and the families they leave behind, we believe these complaints are a fitting first step towards achieving justice for them and all Palestinian journalists."

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