Shireen Abu Aqla: there must be no impunity for perpetrators

12th May 2022
Journalists can only report in the public interest where they are free to report without fear for their lives.
Al Jazeera Network building in Doha, Qatar
DOHA, QATAR - JAN 7: Al Jazeera Network Support Services in Doha. January 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar, Middle East. Credit: Philip Lange /

The journalist Shireen Abu Aqla, who worked for Al Jazeera since 1997 was killed on Wednesday in the West Bank. She had been covering a raid by Israeli forces.

According to the BBC, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet has claimed that the journalist was killed by armed Palestinians. However, Ali Samoudi, the Al Jazeera producer who was working alongside Ms. Aqla and was injured himself, said the shots came from Israeli soldiers. The Qatar-based media organisation has  accused Israel of killing its correspondent “in cold blood.”

Images from the scene show that they were both wearing press flak jackets.

There has been international condemnation in the wake of the killing. Many civil society organisations have called for a thorough investigation to be held, the culprits to be found, and brought to justice.



There has also been outrage from the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, and from the White House.

Read more: The world reacts to the killing of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh (Al Jazeera)

Journalist safety is paramount. It is critical that journalists feel safe while doing their job and are not deliberately targeted. Across the world, this is not guaranteed. CPJ has documented 45 journalist killings in 2021, with Mexico, Afghanist an and India the three most dangerous countries.

The war in Ukraine has also presented a grave threat to journalist safety. IPI has documented 376 media freedom alerts. This includes the deaths of 9 journalists, 82 verbal, online or physical attacks, and 91 arrests or charges.

But beyond the killings, there is a growing culture of impunity which protects many perpetrators from ever being held to account. 87 percent of all killings since 2006 have not been solved. According to IFJ, Israel is complicit. Of the 46 journalists killed in Palestine since 2000, no one has been brought to justice. Impunity demonstrates to perpetrators that there are no consequences for killing journalists, allowing the threats and the killings to continue.

This has serious consequences. Public interest journalism relies on the safety of journalists to be able to report and document consequential events. When this cannot be guaranteed, it then places journalists in significant danger, with ramifications for their safety, public knowledge and in turn, democracy.