Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality Established that Informer Daily Did Not Discriminated against Refugees and Migrants

Acting upon the Praxis complaint, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality has established that Informer Daily has not violated the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination by publishing the article entitled ”ATTENTION! Malaria, Polio and Bird Flu Arrive with Migrants” as of 1 July 2015.

Relying on national and international legislation, Praxis pointed out that disputable text makes unjustified difference between the refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and other foreigners coming to Serbia from the countries with the risk of the mentioned diseases. The text does not contain any official data on possible growth of infectious diseases in Serbia and highlighting the nationality and belonging to certain group is not in the function of understanding the context of the event that is reported about. In addition, the disputable article unjustifiably brings anxiety and fear, given that the title of the sidebar also suggests that “each contact with migrants is dangerous”.

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality is of the opinion that “the author of the text transmits the quoted statements, opinions and views of the epidemiologists and therefore the responsibility of the journalist/editor-in-chief for statements given by another person is not justified…”.  In the conclusion, the Commissioner relies, among others, on international resources and practice, particularly the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, which implies that limitations of freedom of expression shall not be such to “discourage the open discussion about the issues of public interest”.

Despite the Commissioner’s opinion, Praxis is of the opinion that responsibility of media cannot be excluded by the fact that opinions of third persons are “just” transmitted in the text, because it is the purpose and the responsibility of the editor-in-chief to take the responsibility for the information that is communicated in the newspaper. We agree that in a democratic society freedom of expression may be only exclusively limited and that such limitations shall not “discourage the open discussion about the issues of public interest”. However, the disputed statements, assessments and views are not such.

The lack of conviction of Informer Daily writing is the missed opportunity to clearly indicate the responsibility of media when reporting and obligation not to contribute to discrimination, spread unjustified fear and intolerance towards refugees and migrants passing through Serbia, and to highlight that discrimination cannot be justified with the argument that it is just transmission of the statement by a interlocutor.

See also the statement: Informer Daily Violated the Code of Ethics of Journalists of Serbia

Statement published in the following media: CENZOLOVKA

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