Rights group: Journalist’s killers must be prosecuted

James Miller

Legal deliberations on the murder of UK citizen James Miller have continued since he was killed on 2 May 2003 at the border line between Gaza and Egypt. Miller and a small crew were filming in the area for a documentary on children’s lives.

According to investigations by Al Mezan, then-47-year-old Miller was killed by Israeli troops at approximately 11 pm on 2 May 2003 in the al-Shair neighborhood in Rafah. He was with three other persons, including his colleagues Saira Shah and Daniel Edge, and a Palestinian interpreter, Abedul Rahman Abdullah. The group was about to leave when Israeli troops stationed in an armored troop carrier about 150 meters from them opened fire at them. Investigations indicated that they wore clothes showing that they were journalists, that they could be clearly seen from this distance, and that they carried a while flag. They also shouted and said they were British journalists.

A bullet hit Miller’s neck and killed him. At that time, Israel claimed that Miller had been shot in the back during crossfire. However, experts’ investigations and eyewitnesses’ testimonies proved the contrary, and Israel retracted its assertion.

Despite the evident unlawful killing, Israel tried to cover up the conduct and protect its soldiers. The soldier was disciplined for breaching the Israeli army’s rules of engagement, but the investigations could not establish his guilt, the army said, and the soldier was not indicted. This signifies typical behavior by the Israeli military following acts of murder. Dozens of Palestinians (including many children) and foreign peace activists were killed at the border line and the killings went without due investigations.

In April 2006, a jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court in London found that Miller was murdered. The British Government has since exerted pressure to ensure that the killer is prosecuted. Recently, on 26 June 2007, the British Attorney General wrote to his Israeli counterpart to this effect, but has received no response yet. It is expected that Britain will request extraditing the Israeli soldier for trial in the UK.

Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the murder of Miller’s by IOF. It asserts the necessity to investigate and prosecute and punish the killers for perpetrating serious breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL). Miller’s case should be considered as a step towards abolishing impunity and prosecuting those who unlawfully killed the peace activists Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, as well as many Palestinian civilians who were killed in flagrant violations of IHL and IHRL.

Al Mezan therefore renews its calls upon the international community to uphold its moral and legal responsibilities vis-a-vis the civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and ensure that Israel observes its obligations under IHL and IHRL. Its subjects who committed or ordered crimes to be committed must be duly prosecuted.

Al Mezan calls for the prosecution of unlawful acts of killing, including massacres such as the mass killing in the bombardment of al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza in 2002, where 16 civilians were killed (eight children and four women), and other cases, among others, in Beit Hanoun and Rafah.

Related Links

  • Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
  • BY TOPIC: James Miller
  • BY TOPIC: Press Freedom
  • BY TOPIC: Extrajudicial Killings