Call for EU support for investigation into the death of cameraman Fadel Shanaa



    MONTREAL, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is calling on
European Commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to raise
the problem of risks to journalists covering fighting in the Palestinian
territories at the Israel-EU Association Council meeting in Luxemburg on
16 June.
    "The death of Fadel Shanaa, of the British news agency Reuters, on
16 April 2008, has reawakened our concern about the lack of transparency in
Israeli investigations," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
    "Five journalists have been killed by soldiers of the Israel Defence
Forces in the past ten years. This figure may be derisory compared to the
number of civilians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is none
the less worrying in terms of the impunity enjoyed by Israeli soldiers who are
responsible."
    "Nearly two months after the death of Fadel Shanaa in extremely troubling
    circumstances, the Israeli army investigation has not produced results.
Our concern is increased by the fact that a recent statement by an Israeli
army spokesperson said that a preliminary investigation had shown that the
"implicated soldiers did no wrong". Journalists take considerable risks to
report on the reality of war. It is essential to prevent violence against them
and to put those responsible on trial," the organisation wrote.
    Reporters Without Borders also stressed the importance of an action plan
worked out following the Association agreement between the European Union and
the state of Israel and particularly on human rights. "The commitment of the
two to promote humanitarian law imposes an obligation to curb breaches of
international conventions. These articles explicitly set out the criminal and
disciplinary responsibility of soldiers and the military command in the case
of violation. However the soldiers responsible for the death of journalists
Raffaele Ciriello (2002), Imad Abu Zahra (2002), Nazeh Darouazi (2003) and
James Miller (2003) are still benefiting from an inexplicable impunity. The
Israeli justice system has never taken proceedings against those allegedly
responsible and no verdict has ever been pronounced following these war
crimes," the organisation added.
    "The Israeli authorities should act to put an end to this record which is
unworthy of a democracy. We hope that you can convince your interlocutors of
the need to promptly publish the results of the investigation into the death
of the Reuters cameraman. The Israeli state should agree on efforts for
civilians to be spared. It is the only way in which journalists can be
guaranteed to be able to continue to cover this conflict," Reporters Without
Borders concluded.
    The organisation wrote on 11 June, to the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi
Livni deploring the absence of Israel from among states which agreed to sign
the Dublin Convention in December 2008 relating to a ban on cluster bombs.
"Their use endangers the lives of many civilians, including media staff
covering fighting. Despite precautions taken by journalists in the field, the
random spread of the ammunition from these weapons increases the risks they
run. Fadel Shanaa was killed by steel flechettes released by an Israeli shell.
The bullet-proof vest he was wearing that day was not designed to protect
against this type of weapon."
    In its letter to the minister, Reporters Without Borders called on the
Israeli authorities to state their commitment to apply the humanitarian
clauses in the additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. The
organisation pointed out that the Protocol I, of 8 June 1977, includes an
article relating to the protection of journalists while on dangerous
professional missions in armed conflict areas. Even though the state of Israel
has not signed the additional Protocol, it is part of customary international
law and should be applied on this basis.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive director,
Reporters without borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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