Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Transparency and Multiple Perspectives

by Stine Eckert
edited by Cristina Mutchler

For writing an editorial about torture it would be helpful to pull up and cite the definitions of torture from the Geneva convention and the declarations of human rights as well as other necessary documents to give the reader more context. Which countries have ratified which documents? What standards have they used in the past? The editorial should use quotations from all sides of a situation as well as more neutral experts on the issue to present as many perspectives as possible. If a country claims something different than the practices it is using, coverage of such discrepancy between theory and practice need to be highlighted in an editorial so that the reader can draw from the comparisons a conclusion as to how (un)trustworthy and (un)truthful an administration is. Studies have shown that public opinion in matters of international policy can change foreign policy and thus contribute to betterment of a situation.

For the criticism of U.S. policies on wiretapping and extraordinary renditions it would be helpful in the debate to list specific incidents, explain the laws concerned, and match them with public statements of U.S. officials to better illustrate double standards. What is supposed to be done, what was said, and what is done? It is very important to cover these issues consistently, critically and to bring as much transparency to the audience as possible. An issue such as this can be hard to research and complicated to explain, but it is part of the watchdog function of the press to expose such politics so that the responsible persons can be held accountable.

Human rights violations should be covered no matter which country is concerned. Human rights concern every human in every country. Violations need to be widely publicized by as many domestic and international media as possible. Investigations into these transgressions need to be undertaken by independent, international bodies to collect more facts and shed light into what is happening. Only by public awareness (international) pressure on the administration can be build to change the situation for the better.

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