New York, September 22, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is dismayed at the results of the U.S. military’s investigation into the August 17 killing of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, which concluded that U.S. soldiers acted within the rules of engagement when they shot Dana.
“The U.S. military is acting as judge and jury in this case,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “The military has concluded that the soldier who shot Dana acted within the rules of engagement, yet they won’t discuss what those rules are.”
The results of the investigation have not been made public but were reported by The Associated Press (AP). The AP story quoted military spokesman Lt. Col. George Kivo as saying that while Dana’s killing was “regrettable,” the soldiers “acted within the rules of engagement.”
Dana, 43, was filming outside Abu Ghraib Prison near Baghdad when U.S. soldiers said they mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and fatally shot him. Dana had secured permission from U.S. forces to film in the area. According to eyewitnesses, there was no fighting taking place when the journalist was shot.
In an August 18 letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, CPJ called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the shooting and called on the Pentagon to make its findings public. [Read the letter.]
“Unless the full investigation is made public, we have no way of evaluating whether it was fair and comprehensive,” continued Cooper.
Dana was awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2001 in recognition of his courage and commitment in covering the ongoing conflict in his hometown of Hebron, in the West Bank. He was married with four children.