Al Jazeera Media Network has said it will file a case with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate the murder of its journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of Israeli forces.
In a statement released on Thursday, the network said it had formed an international coalition consisting of its legal team along with international experts, and is preparing a dossier on the murder of Abu Akleh to submit to the ICC prosecutor.
Abu Akleh, 51, was shot on May 11 while wearing a helmet and a vest that was clearly marked with the word “PRESS”.
In addition, the Qatar-based network also announced that it would ask the court to investigate the Israeli shelling “and total destruction” of Al Jazeera’s Gaza office in May 2021, during Israel’s 11-day attack on Gaza.
On Friday, lawyers who filed a case with the ICC over Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists and media said they would include the killing of Abu Akleh in the complaint.
Here is what you need to know:
What is the ICC?
Established in 1998 and in force since 2002, the ICC was created to prosecute and punish people for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
The preamble to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the treaty that established the ICC, states that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished.”
Why is Al Jazeera going to the ICC?
Al Jazeera has described the murder of Abu Akleh as a “flagrant murder” that violates “international laws and norms”.
In its statement on Thursday, the network said that according to article 8 of the ICC charter, “targeting war correspondents or journalists working in war zones or occupied territories by killing or physically assaulting them is a war crime. ”.
“The Network promises to pursue all avenues to achieve justice for Shireen and ensure that those responsible for her murder are brought to justice and held accountable in all international legal and justice platforms and courts,” the news outlet added.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has also formally requested the ICC to investigate the death of Abu Akleh.
“We have documented [the crime] and submitted a file on it to the ICC prosecutor along with other Israeli violations,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Monday.
Based in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has been a state party to the ICC since 2015.
In addition to investigating the murder of Abu Akleh, Al Jazeera has also asked the ICC to investigate the destruction of its offices in May 2021 during Israel’s 11-day assault on Gaza.
Israeli airstrikes destroyed the 11-story al-Jalaa building that housed the Al Jazeera bureau and the offices of the US-based news agency The Associated Press.
What are the expectations of the ICC?
Earlier this week, the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative accused the ICC of “double standards” in handling cases brought by Palestinians.
“We have been providing information for the last 13 years, but the investigation has not yet started. And in less than two months, the ICC has sent 42 investigators to Ukraine,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a former Palestinian information minister.
International experts have often claimed that the ICC has a bias against African nations and others in the Global South, while ignoring human rights abuses committed by Western nations and their allies.
However, the Palestinians previously welcomed the ICC’s announcement in March 2021 that it would open a formal investigation into Israel’s human rights abuses in the occupied territories since June 2014.
The court has said that it had jurisdiction in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel’s leader at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the ICC of “anti-Semitism” and called it an “attack” on his country.
Israel is one of the few countries, including China and the US, that is not a member of the ICC and thus claims that it has no jurisdiction over its actions.
The Biden administration has previously criticized the ICC’s effort to assert jurisdiction over Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.