Strasbourg, 24/10/2013 - “The long-standing problem of negative media reporting on minorities has vehemently re-emerged with the cases of the children found in Roma families in Greece and Ireland. Most news reports, not only in Europe but all over the world, have insisted on the ethnicity of the families from which the children have been taken, thus propagating age-old myths portraying Roma as child-abductors” said today Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, in an open address to journalists.
I call on all journalists involved in the coverage of these cases to step back and examine whether mentioning ethnicity was really necessary, whether the best interests of the child, including the right to privacy, have been respected and whether the presumption of innocence has been upheld. Past examples teach us that demonising a group of people through the media can lead to nefarious political and societal consequences. It is necessary that the media use their power of forging public opinion more responsibly when it comes to portraying minorities in general, and the Roma in particular.