CJPME: One year after the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, Canada must hold Israeli officials accountable

Montreal, May 11, 2023 On the one-year anniversary of the killing of veteran Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is demanding that the Canadian government hold Israeli officials accountable for her death. Unfortunately, Canada has abandoned its initial calls for accountability and for an investigation into her death, despite overwhelming evidence indicating that Abu Akleh was deliberately killed by Israeli forces while visible as a member of the press. CJPME urges Canada to renew its call for accountability now that Israeli forces are unquestionably responsible for this crime, and to put its support behind an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“There is undeniable evidence proving that Israeli forces deliberately killed Shireen Abu Akleh, yet Canada seems to have lost all interest,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “One year has passed since the tragic incident and Canada has yet to condemn Israeli officials for this crime or take any action to hold them accountable,” added Bueckert.

Shortly following the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly tweeted: “Canada calls for a thorough investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. We must ensure that rights of journalists are upheld globally and that they are free and safe to bring their work to light.” The following week, Parliamentary Secretary Rob Oliphant told Parliament that “Canada has called for a thorough investigation into this killing, such that people will have confidence in its findings.” Despite this, Canada has stopped talking about the issue and has not supported efforts by the International Federation of Journalists and Al-Jazeera to bring the case before the ICC. Similarly, at least 17 Canadian members of parliament had called for an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, but most have ignored the reports finding Israel responsible.

CJPME notes that multiple investigations by international human rights organizations, including a joint report by Forensic Architecture and Al-Haq, have concluded that Israeli soldiers targeted Abu Akleh “deliberately and explicitly,” and found that there were no Palestinian gunmen or crossfire in the area – completely debunking Israel’s claims that the killing could have been an accident. In addition, similar investigations by CNN, Bellingcat, the Washington Post and the Associated Press all indicated that Abu Akleh was targeted by Israeli forces on purpose. In fact, Israeli military officials have openly admitted that there was a “high probability” that Israeli soldiers targeted Abu Akleh yet declined to open a criminal investigation. Further, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid reaffirmed that he would “not allow” any soldier to be prosecuted. Yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report revealing that at least 20 journalists have been killed by Israeli forces in the last 22 years, and concluded that this pattern “constitutes a grave threat to press freedom.”

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact: Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME: 613-315-7947 or [email protected].

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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