Dark Week For Journalism As Four Reporters Killed

Fears for journalists’ safety have been raised after four reporters, including TV correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh who died while working on the West Bank, were killed in just a week. 

Ms Abu Akleh worked as a reporter and TV correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic for 25 years. She was killed whilst covering Israeli army raids in the city of Jenin.

Paying tribute on behalf of the UK government, Foreign Office Minister Vicky Ford MP said: “The United Kingdom Government were shocked to hear of the very sad death of the respected and renowned journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while working in the West Bank. On 11 May, the Foreign Secretary and UK Ministers made clear our concern, and we have called for a thorough investigation into the events.

“On 13 May, in company with the other members of the United Nations Security Council, we strongly condemned the killing and stressed the importance of an immediate, thorough, transparent, fair and impartial investigation. We also stressed the need to ensure accountability.

“The work of journalists across the globe is vital and they must be protected to carry out their work and defend media freedom. We were also deeply distressed by the scenes at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday. Her death was a tragedy and those mourning must be treated with respect and dignity.

“The situation on the ground makes clear the need to make progress towards a peaceful two-state solution, and the UK stands ready to support.”

Reporters Without Borders have reported the deaths of 26 journalists and two media workers  around the world in 2022 so far, with four reporters killed last week. The RSF also report that 460 journalists and 18 media workers are currently in prison.

In the Guardian last week, Robert Mahoney, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “There is a common thread here, which is that in 2022 we have seen a real upsurge in the numbers of journalists being killed.

“It is very difficult to draw a direct connection between any of these killings except to say that it has become – and is becoming, I believe – more dangerous to do independent journalism.”

During a debate in the House of Lords this week, Lord Collins of Highbury said: “My Lords, the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh was not only an outrageous act but an attack on the freedom of the media and the independence of journalists working around the world. Her killing was rightly condemned by world leaders, the UN and civil society.”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the minister of state for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office, said Ms. Abu Akleh “worked over many years with great diligence and great conviction, and— speaking as someone who leads on the importance of media freedom around the world, which I know is close to the noble Lord’s heart as well—she did exactly what we know many journalists do in conflict zones: operated in reporting news with great courage and conviction.

She has tragically paid the ultimate price of her life.”

CPJ president, Jodie Ginsberg, said: “Journalists are not being killed in the crossfire any longer: increasingly, they are being targeted.

“In the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, eyewitnesses say Israeli forces shot and killed her while she was reporting and clearly identified as ‘press’ and this follows a worrying pattern of Israeli forces targeting Palestinian journalists.”