More than 60 US rights organizations have sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass a bill that would require a US investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist who was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank last year.
The bill, known as the Justice for Shireen Act, was introduced by Representative Andre Carson and would mandate the FBI and the State Department to report on the circumstances of Abu Akleh’s death and identify those responsible for it.
Abu Akleh, who worked for Al Jazeera, was killed in May 2022 while covering the Israeli military’s invasion of the Jenin refugee camp. Several media and human rights investigations have concluded that she was killed by an Israeli soldier and that there was no evidence of Palestinian gunfire in the area.
The letter, which was signed by groups such as Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and Oxfam America, said that Abu Akleh’s killing was part of a “systemic pattern of human rights abuses” against Palestinians and the free press by the Israeli military.
“We mourn the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh and renew our call for justice and accountability for her death,” the letter said. “We 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.”
The letter also noted that President Biden had called for a “full and transparent accounting” of Abu Akleh’s death when he visited the region last year and that the US had opened a federal criminal investigation into her killing in November 2022.
However, the letter said that no one has been prosecuted or held accountable for the killing of Abu Akleh or any of the other 20 journalists who have been killed by the Israeli military in the past two decades, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“We urge you to act swiftly and decisively to ensure that Shireen Abu Akleh’s death is not another case of impunity for Israel’s violations of international law and human rights,” the letter said.