Killing prompts new war crime call
From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)
BBC News | 4 May 2003
The killing of reporters in war zones should be made a new war crime after the death of a British cameraman in Gaza, campaigners say.
James Miller, 34, from Devon, was shot in the southern troublespot of Rafah.
Initial findings from an Israeli Defence Forces investigation into the affair indicate that the correspondent was shot in the back, with sources suggesting that he may have been hit by Palestinian gunfire.
The award-winning journalist was filming a documentary on the effect of terrorism on children for the American cable giant HBO.
Another Briton who had been with Mr Miller said they were waving a white flag and moving towards an Israeli armoured vehicle when it opened fire.
Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said the Israeli army must not be allowed to “brush aside” Mr Miller’s death with their “routine and callous expressions of regret”.
The Israeli army said it had returned fire after being attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and expressed “sorrow at a civilian death”.
But a spokesman added: “It must be stressed a cameraman who knowingly enters a combat zone, especially at night, endangers himself.”
Mr White, whose federation operates on behalf of about 500,000 journalists globally, said there must be a full inquiry into Mr Miller’s death, a call echoed by the Foreign Office.
“Killing journalists either deliberately or by gross negligence should be made official war crimes under international law,” he said.
“There is now an unstoppable wave of anger within journalism which is calling for action to halt this process.
“The military authorities cannot any longer ignore the fact that journalists in war zones and conflict areas are doing a legitimate and important public duty and that special attention must be paid to their safety.”
Mr White said it was a “terrible irony” that Mr Miller died on World Press Freedom Day.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are in contact with the Israeli authorities and pushing for a full and transparent investigation.”
Mr Miller was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, and had been living in Devon with his wife and son.
The cameraman had won international acclaim for his documentary work including Beneath the Veil – a film about life under the Taleban.
He was killed in Rafah, an area of Gaza on the southern border with Egypt which is a site of frequent gun battles between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.
On Friday, the Israeli foreign ministry announced plans to crack down on international “human shield” volunteers who have attempted to prevent demolitions.
They started by detaining a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Rafah.
A British peace activist with the ISM is now in a coma after he was shot in the head by an Israeli tank in Rafah last month.
Thomas Hurndall, 22, was believed to have been among a group of nine activists who had to abandon their planned protest at a refugee camp in Rafah when shooting started.
Two other peace activists were also wounded last month and a 23-year-old American was killed in March.