Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 14:48 GMT

A piece of truth: Marie Colvin and Remy Ochlik

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 23 February 2012
Cite as Article 19, A piece of truth: Marie Colvin and Remy Ochlik, 23 February 2012, available at: [accessed 20 September 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Their killings yesterday sickened us all within and outside the Media and press freedom community: Two fantastic professionals, the best foreign correspondent, a young super talented photographer – murdered as they were doing their job. Reporting to us, speaking for those who could not. Bearing witness. 

Their killings sickened us because of what they reflect: the continuing slaughtering of citizens in Homs and elsewhere in the country; the unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention, indiscriminate use of artillery and other heavy weaponry and shelling of civilian areas, the denial of humanitarian assistance, etc... And our seemingly powerlessness in the face of such injustice.

With these two murders, it is a bit of truth that is killed.  It is the right to know that is abused, the right of all, around the world, and in Syria, to know of the crimes committed by the Syrian army and government, the right to know of the sufferings, the right to know the truth despite all the attempts to hide it, silence it, prevent it from slipping through the boundaries of repression.

These last killings bring the number of journalists killed in Syria to 6. Six of the some 6000 killed civilians over the last 11 months, according to the UN, although the number must have increased since.

Journalists are civilians under the laws of war and human right law. The Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols and customary international humanitarian law provide that journalists are entitled to all the rights and protections granted to civilians in armed conflicts, including internal armed conflict. Parties to a conflict, regardless of whether they are states or insurgents, are prohibited to target civilians, including journalists, and required to take all feasible precautions to avoid attacks that result in casualties.

In 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1738 calling for the protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed conflict situations. It asks of governments to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and urges all parties to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists.

Marie Colvin and Remy Ochlik may have been specifically targeted because of who they were and what they were doing.

They may have been the victim of a "random" shelling of a civilian area, one of the many indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

Both case scenarios amount to a war crime.  And the repeated attacks and targeting of civilians, torture, disappearances, etc. are increasingly pointing to crimes against humanity being committed in Syria.

Marie Colvin's mother told her daughter's friends and colleagues that she did not want her daughter's legacy to be "no comment": "because she wasn't a no comment person. Her legacy is: be passionate and be involved in what you believe in. And do it thoroughly and honestly and fearlessly as you can." 

Let it all be our duty to comment and comment.  And comment.

And let's all make sure that injustice should not be the legacy of Mary Colvin's murder, that of Remy Ochlik, and of countless others.

Justice must be these murders' legacy. 

Copyright notice: Copyright ARTICLE 19

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