Marie Colvin: Family of the US reporter sues Syrian regime

The family of the US reporter Marie Colvin have filed a lawsuit in a court in Washington accusing the regime of Bashar al-Assad of killing her. According to the lawsuit, The Sunday Times correspondent, who died on 22 February 2012 in the city of Homs, had been deliberately targeted and killed by the Syrian authorities to stop her from covering government atrocities.

The lawsuit, filed last Saturday, alleged that, following the confirmation of a female informant that Colvin was there, Syrian officials, acting “with premeditation”, deliberately targeted rockets against a makeshift broadcast studio where the journalist and other reporters were living while covering the conflict. As a consequence of the attack, Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed, while British photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier were wounded. It also concluded that the attack was part of a plan orchestrated at the highest levels of the Syrian government to silence local and international media "as part of its effort to crush political opposition".

“No armed rebels were present at or near the media center at the time of the attack,” added the suit, which is based on information from captured government documents and defectors. It names several Syrian officials, including Assad’s brother Maher, and it was filed on behalf of Colvin’s sister Cathleen Colvin and other surviving family members by a non-profit human rights group. Media reported that the family's lawsuit is seeking monetary damages but did not specify an amount.

Philippe Leruth, IFJ President, said, “If the information and the documents filed in the court by Colvin’s family are genuine, her deliberate killing by the Syrian regime would be an intolerable attempt by the authorities to eliminate journalists and witnesses who try to report on the atrocities committed during a war and it can’t be ignored. Each time a journalist is killed because she's complying with her duty to inform, democracy and freedom are victims of the killers. The worst thing that follows a killing is the impunity. We therefore call on the international community to ensure the people behind this murder face the full force of the international law.”

An ongoing murder and attempted murder investigation was launched in France in 2012 into the death of Ochlik and wounding of another journalist Edith Bouvier, in the same attack. They allege it was a war crime and crime against humanity. Interested parties in the case said they would submit the Colvin family's U.S. lawsuit to the judge in charge of the French investigation.

Back in 2012, the IFJ and its affiliate in Great Britain and Ireland, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), sent their condolences to Colvin’s family and asked the Syrian authorities to avoid indiscriminate attacks that risk costing lives of civilians, including journalists.


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