Mr Femi Falana, West Africa’s foremost Media Defense Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has asked the Israeli government to spare ‘innocent and unarmed citizens’ as it continued the bombardment in Gaza.
He said though the terrorist attack by Hamas fighters must be condemned, Israel must cease the ‘collective punishment’ meted out to Palestinians, especially women and children.
Addressing the 2023 West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA) in Accra on Saturday, the Human Rights Activist described the war in Gaza as a ‘mockery of our humanity.’
‘…While Israelis are entitled to defend themselves against terrorist attacks, we insist that the collective punishment being meted out to all Palestinians, including women and children, who are being killed is not acceptable.
‘What is currently going on there [Gaza] is collective punishment, which is tantamount to a crime against humanity,’ he stated.
Mr Falana noted that ‘collective punishment’ was a crime under the Geneva Convention and that
the world was against ‘the unprovoked attack on the innocent people of Palestine’.
He maintained that most Palestinians were opposed to the operations of Hamas, therefore, all citizens could not be punished for the violence unleased on Israel by the group.
He tasked journalists to join the human rights community demanding ‘immediate and unconditional’ ceasefire in Palestine.
Israel launched attack on Gaza after the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, which saw 1,200 people killed and more than 200 taken hostage.
More 11,000 lives, including about 4,500 children, are said to have been lost as fighting continued with more people fleeing the city.
Media reports as of November 12, 2023, indicate that the Israeli military had agreed to help evacuate babies from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital to a ‘safer’ facility.
WAMECA honours outstanding works of journalism in West Africa. The 2023 edition was themed: ‘Media and Democracy in Africa’.
Six journalists, comprising four Ghanaians and two Nigerian reporters, emerged w
inners after 825 entries were screened.
Muhammed Akinyemi of HumAngle Media (Nigeria) emerged the Best West African Journalist of The Year.
Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Debrah (Multimedia Group Limited) won the Telecom and ICT Reporting category while Gbenga Salau (Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria) topped the Business Reporting contest.
Mr Emmanuel Ayamga (Pulse Ghana), Komla Adom (Tv3 Ghana) and Francisca Enchill (Multimedia Group Limited) were crowned in the Migration, Human Rights and Investigative Reporting categories respectively. They took home cash prizes, citations and plaques.