iaIGO Condemns the Kidnapping of Three Spanish Journalists in Aleppo, Syria

iaIGO Condemns the Kidnapping of Three Spanish Journalists in Aleppo, Syria 25 July 2015

The International Gulf Organization for Human Rigghts (iaIGO) is deeply concerned about the whereabouts and safety of three Spanish journalists abducted in Syria.

Three Spanish freelance journalists – Jose Manuel Lopez, Antonio Pampliega and Angel Sastre – have reportedly been missing for the past 10 days. They are feared to have been kidnapped in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo which has been devastated by fighting between rebels and forces loyal to the ruling Syrian regime. It is still unclear which group has detained them, but parts of Aleppo, and the surrounding area, are under the control of ISIL militants.

Northern Syria has been a dangerous area most especially for Western journalists who are covering the ongoing fighting in the country. Foreign journalists reporting from these areas are at risk of been abducted or even killed in their line of duty. The three captured recently are among 40 or so foreign reporters who have been kidnapped by various groups in Syria. It is equally believed that at least 44 journalists have been killed since the conflict broke out in 2011 in Syria, where various armed factions are battling President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and each other.

iaIGO denounces the abduction of these journalists and stresses that this act is against international human rights laws as well as international laws. Article 75 of the Additional Protocol I of the Fourth Geneva Conventions specifically prohibits all parties in armed conflict to inflict any violence to the life or health of persons in the power of a party to an armed conflict, torture of all kinds, outrages upon personal dignity and the taking of hostages. Journalists benefit from the guarantees under this convention as they are also considered as civilians during times of war or conflict.

Thus, all the crimes including violent attacks, kidnapping, beheading, and arbitrary detentions carried out against journalists with impunity both in armed conflict zones and non- armed conflict are against these laws. It is also interesting to note that these acts of violence against journalists and media professionals – whether in armed or non-armed conflicts – amount to war crimes and crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Hence, perpetrators of such act could be referred to and prosecuted at the ICC.

iaIGO therefore calls on all the parties of the Syrian conflict to immediately and unconditionally release these three Spanish journalists. iaIGO urges the Syrian government to swiftly investigate on the missing case and to return these men back to their government and their families. iaIGO further urges all parties to the ongoing conflict in Syria to respect their obligations under international human rights laws and to refrain from abducting or killing any journalist or media professional.