60+ US organizations urge Congress to pursue justice for slain Palestinian-American journalist

Dozens of US rights groups have urget the Congress to pass a bill requiring the US investigation into the killing of the slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed in May last year by Israeli forces while on duty in the refugee camp of Jenin.

In a letter sent to members of the Congress, more than 60 US rights organizations have renewed their calls to members of the congress to support Justice for Shireen Act (H.R. 3477) bill.

The bill, which was introduced by congressman Andre Carson, would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department to publicly report on the circumstances surrounding Shireen Abu Akleh’s death.

The letter was led by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Human Rights, Amnesty International USA, Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), If Not Now, Defense of Children International – Palestine (DCIP), Oxfam America, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Arab American Institute, Human Rights Watch, Win Without War, and Center for Civilians In Conflict (CIVIC), and dozens of other groups signed the letter.

“Over a year ago, Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed while reporting on the Israeli military’s invasion of a refugee camp in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. It is widely accepted by many media and human rights institutions, based on available witness testimony and forensic video and audio analysis, that Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by an Israeli soldier. We mourn the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and renew our call for justice and accountability for her death,” said the letter.

“We, the undersigned organizations, call on Congress and the Biden administration to support Representative Andre Carson’s Justice for Shireen Act to require necessary reporting to Congress by the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an effort to learn all the unanswered questions leading up to, during and after the fatal shot that killed Ms. Abu Akleh. Additionally, this bill requires an identification of the individuals and entities that carried out, participated in, or were otherwise complicit in, or responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh; and any United States defense materials or services that were implicated in the death of Ms. Abu Akleh.”

“Several prominent media outlets, including Al Jazeera, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Office, have conducted extensive investigations into Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, utilizing a range of resources, including witness testimony, outside expertise, and visual evidence. They have all reached the same conclusion: there was no gunfire from Palestinian militants in the area and there is overwhelming evidence that an Israeli soldier was responsible for her death.

Over 100 members of Congress have made statements or signed letters calling for a thorough U.S.-led investigation that results in accountability for those found responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. President Biden even called for a “full and transparent accounting” of her death when he was in the region last year. In November 2022, news broke that the United States had opened a federal criminal investigation into Shireen’s killing,” the letter continued.

“Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing is part of a systemic pattern of human rights abuses against Palestinians and the free press by the Israeli military. For more than two decades, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded at least 20 instances where journalists were killed by the Israeli military. Despite multiple internal investigations by the Israeli military, no one has been prosecuted or held accountable for these killings.”

“We call upon Congress to pass Representative Carson’s Justice for Shireen Act to require necessary reporting into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing and urge Congress and the Biden administration to take immediate steps to ensure that U.S. military funding to the Israeli government does not support human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The United States has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that its military funding is not used to support actions that violate international humanitarian or human rights law. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. We look forward to working with you to bring about justice for Shireen Abu Akleh,” the letter concluded.

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