Security Council condemns 'cowardly' murder of journalist in Syria, demands release of hostages

A wide view of the Security Council in session (file photo). UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

6 September 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today strongly condemned the "heinous and cowardly" murder of Steven Sotloff, an American and Israeli journalist, by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers journalists face every day in Syria,” Council members said in a statement to the press.

They also expressed deep sympathy and condolences to those the family of the Mr. Sotloff and stressed that that those responsible for his murder must be held accountable.

Mr. Sotloff, 31, was a freelance journalist who worked for a number of leading United States publications including Time magazine and World Affairs. He was kidnapped in Aleppo, Syria, last summer.

His murder comes on the heels of last month's beheading by ISIL of American journalist James Foley.

The Security Council today said Mr. Sotloff's murder “once again demonstrates the brutality” of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of abuses against the Syrian and Iraqi people.

The 15-member body urged all countries in accordance with their obligations under international law to cooperate with the United States, Israel, and other relevant authorities. Such acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL “do not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve to counter ISIL,” Council members stated.

ISIL must be defeated and the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out, the Council said, demanding the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other groups associated with Al-Qaida.

According to international law, journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are generally considered as civilians and must be protected as such, the Council said. All parties to an armed conflict must comply fully with international humanitarian law while perpetrators of reprehensible acts of terrorism must be brought to justice.

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