UN urges UK to take action against tabloids’ racist discourse

UN urges UK to take action against tabloids’ racist discourse

Home Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:15AM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the British government to take necessary measures against the tabloid newspapers that incite racial hatred.

“This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long,” said Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein on Friday, stressing that under Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

Hussein made the remarks in reaction to a recent controversial article published in The Sun which called migrants “cockroaches”.

The UN rights chief compared the racist content of the article to the discourse employed by Nazis during World War II and the Rwandan criminals at the time of the 1994 genocide.

“The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches. This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author,” he went on to say.

Hussein stated that the article can never be justified under the pretext of the freedom of expression, since it just promotes “a vicious cycle of vilification, intolerance and politicization of migrants, as well as of marginalized European minorities such as the Roma” throughout the continent.

He also said that the British media try to “demonize” migrants and thus intentionally spread “grossly distorted” images of asylum seekers.

“Many of these stories have been grossly distorted and some have been outright fabrications. Elsewhere in Europe, as well as in other countries, there has been a similar process of demonization taking place,” the UN official stated, adding, “To give just one glimpse of the scale of the problem, back in 2003 the Daily Express ran 22 negative front page stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period,” he pointed out.

The UN rights chief also slammed the European Union’s migration policies, saying that the racist article was a reflection of the dominant attitude of the EU member states towards the refugee crisis.

“The nasty underbelly of racism that is characterizing the migration debate in an increasing number of EU countries, has skewed the EU response to the crisis,” he added.

On April 17, The Sun columnist Katie Hopkins wrote in an article that she feels no sympathy for the illegal migrants who lost their lives in recent days following their abortive attempts to reach Europe through the Mediterranean.

The British cities are like “festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers shelling out benefits like Monopoly money,” she said, adding that the refugees “are like cockroaches.”

On Monday, the Society of Black Lawyers, a British NGO, reported the case of Hopkins and the newspaper’s editor, David Dinsmore, to the UK’s Metropolitan Police.

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