Thursday, February 19, 2009

See the Context - Human Rights

by Carolin Biebrach
edited by Cristina Mutchler

First think about your own mistake, before you start judging others. This would be the core theme of my editorial. Countries should be treated equally. It doesn’t matter who is not respecting the human rights. The United States, Germany, Zimbabwe – if any of these countries are violating rights, they all deserve the same treatment and international punishment. It is the media’s responsibility to bring those violations to the surface. They have to inform the public, so that the public can make their own judgments. Whether it is Guantanamo bay or a conflict in Zimbabwe, both incidents deserve the same media attention, to guarantee the same standards of judgment.

First, you have to define whether you really have double standards or whether you have those different actions for different reasons. London is taped with cameras. Of course people are complaining that this is intimidating their private sphere. But this cameras improve public security, so one has to decide, what is more important. This is not supposed to be an excuse for things, the U.S. is doing, and that they can be treated differently from others. But you have to explore the purpose of those actions. If the U.S. violates human rights, like they did in Iraq or Guantanamo Bay, they deserve the same the same international criticism. If I were a foreign correspondence, and there would be a case where my home country is violating human rights, then it is my responsibility as a journalist to judge those actions the same way, like I would judge them in other countries.

You cannot fit your own nation's past in every article, you are writing about other nations. If you are reporting on a war, you are not explaining the war history of the U.S. either. Therefore I would not include the human rights violations of the U.S. in every human rights article about other countries. But in this specific case, Bush was judging others for mistakes, he made on his own. Again, it is the journalist’s responsibility to draw those comparisons, if necessary. This is crucial for the public, and their forming of opinions.

No comments: