If ISIS had journalists on the ground in the Battle of Mosul (2016-17) that recently concluded, and they were clearly journalists, and clearly weren't combatants; would their Iraqi enemy be allowed to kill them? Or would that be war crime?

Along with this; what would they be permitted to, and not permitted to, do to them? And would the ICC, in theory at least, allow a group like ISIS to take action against the Iraqis for war crimes committed against these journalists?

Is the ICC open to all sides of a fight who are willing to cooperate? Or, are they more exclusive in terms of who can do what?

  • ISIS is not a nation, so I'm not sure how they'd have journalists. Jul 11, 2017 at 21:45
  • 2
    What do you mean they can't have journalists? Get guys from ISIS; give them cameras instead of guns; and poof journalists!
    – Tirous
    Jul 12, 2017 at 19:37
  • 3
    I own a camera. Doesn't make me a journalist. More to the point, an American journalist isn't someone practicing journalism for the USA, they are employed by a media outlet, and their nationality is "American." Someone might be a journalist for the NY Times, who happens to be from the USA. Handing someone a camera or a notepad or a laptop does not make them a journalist. Jul 12, 2017 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


ISIS is not a member of the ICC, therefore it can't appeal to it.

Intentionally killing journalists would be a war crime. However, if journalists are killed by an attack aimed at a legitimate target, it is not (otherwise armies would include journalists in every fighting unit).

  • 1
    This is not correct though - any nation state that is not a member of the ICC can still submit itself to ICC's jurisdiction and ask for justice against any aggression or war crimes. In fact, that is what Ukraine has done - it is not a member of the ICC but has asked the ICC to investigate Russia, and that is why ICC has issued a warrant against Putin for investigation.
    – sfxedit
    Mar 19 at 21:45
  • 1
    Ofcourse, we also need to consider whether the ISIS state is recognized by the ICC as a state.
    – sfxedit
    Mar 19 at 21:54
  • @sfxedit: not against "any aggression": politics.stackexchange.com/a/78831/18373
    – Fizz
    Mar 23 at 20:29

For the ICC to consider a case it would have to be satisfied:

  1. That a crime had been committed that it was competent to judicate on. Murder is such a crime. If a civilian had been targeted by coalition soldiers that would be a murder and so would be within the remit of the court.

  2. That the crime occured in a country that was a signatory to the ICC, or the accused was a citizen of such a country. Iraq is not a signatory, and the USA and Russia have indicated that they intend to withdraw. Syria signed, but has not ratified the treaty. The ICC can only act when permitted by Treaty. The UK is a ratified signatory, so the actions of UK troops may be subject to ICC actions.

  3. That there was no reasonable chance of a trial in the home nation. It is clear that a UK citizen can be tried for murder that occurs in Iraq. The court would expect the UK to act.

  4. That a case is brought by a signatory state, or the United Nations. Daesh is not a state, so it can't bring a case to the ICC.

In short: Murdering a civillian journalist would be a war crime. But due to the role of the ICC it is unlikely that the murder of such a journalist would be tried in the ICC as the main players in the region are not signatories to the court.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .