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Assad regime sued for death of war reporter Marie Colvin

A man holds a sign honoring Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin after a memorial service, outside St Martin in the Field in London May 16, 2012
A man holds a sign honoring Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin after a memorial service, outside St Martin in the Field in London May 16, 2012

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 10 July 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) supports the lawsuit that the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) has filed in a federal court in Washington DC accusing President Bashar al-Assad's government of deliberately murdering US reporter Marie Colvin in Syria in 2012.

The lawsuit provides evidence of the direct responsibility of Syrian government officials for Colvin's death in a Syrian army bombardment in the city of Homs on 22 February 2012.

Marie Colvin, who was reporting for the London Sunday Times, was killed along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik. French reporter Edith Bouvier, Syrian media defender Wael al-Omar and British photographer Paul Conroy were wounded in the same bombardment.

“The filing of this lawsuit shows that it is possible to take action to end impunity for those responsible for crimes against journalists, RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. RSF is proud to have introduced the Colvin family to the CJA and to have supported the CJA constantly in its investigation during all these years through RSF's various bureaux and correspondents in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. RSF hopes these effort will help to expose the truth, namely that these journalists were deliberately targeted and killed because they were providing information about the Syrian army's crimes against civilians.”

Since 2013, RSF has been registered as an interested party in the French judicial investigation into the “second-degree murder” of Ochlik and the “attempted murder” of Bouvier. Conducted by a member of the French unit for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the French investigation has however made little progress.

Having worked on this case since the outset, RSF will submit CJA's complaint to the judge in charge of the French investigation on Monday (11 July).

“I welcome the progress that has been made in establishing the truth and I hope it will help to advance the French investigation,” RSF lawyer Guillaume Prigent said.

Ever since the start of the conflict in Syria in March 2011, hundreds of Syrian and foreign journalists have been risking their lives every day to cover the civil war's horrors. According to RSF's tally, around 200 journalists and citizen journalists have been killed, making it the world's deadliest country for media personnel. At least 29 are currently in prison and another 29 (including seven foreigners) are missing or are being held hostage.

Syria is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • War reporter Marie Colvin’s family sues Syria

    “Marie felt she had a responsibility to report; she refused to leave it to YouTube. Yet, on this occasion, the risk was too great. Was she brave, or – in her own words – was it bravado? Either way, we are all the poorer because Marie Colvin is no longer reporting from Syria.”

  • Marie Colvin: Family of the US reporter sues Syrian regime

    “If the information and the documents filed in the court by Colvin’s family are genuine, her deliberate killing by the Syrian regime would be an intolerable attempt by the authorities to eliminate journalists and witnesses who try to report on the atrocities committed during a war and it can’t be ignored. Each time a journalist is killed because she's complying with her duty to inform, democracy and freedom are victims of the killers. The worst thing that follows a killing is the impunity. We therefore call on the international community to ensure the people behind this murder face the full force of the international law.”



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