Rights group deplores media racism on occasion of EU enlargement
As ten accession states join the European Union on 1 May, the media within some existing EU states are marking the occasion with racist and discriminatory comment similar to recent unwarranted attacks on the Roma in the UK tabloid press.
‘Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamental rights and should be upheld in a democratic society, however, they should not be used to justify hate speech and racism’, stated Minority Rights Group International. Equality and non-discrimination are guiding principles of international law and MRG is concerned that benefits of EU enlargement are being over-shadowed by misleading, negative coverage designed to make headlines and sell newspapers. MRG points to the fact that migration and cultural diversity have historically brought the UK economic, social and cultural benefits and opportunities.
Minority Rights Group International pointed to sensationalist coverage in UK national daily newspapers including references to ‘gypsy horde’, ‘gypsy crisis’ and ‘huge gypsy invasion’, as poorly disguised racism intended to stir up anti-Roma sentiment. MRG claim that the tabloid campaign against the Roma reinforces misleading racial and cultural stereotypes.
According to MRG it is the responsibility of both long-standing and new EU accession states to act forcefully against racism and discrimination whoever it is directed against, and to uphold high standards of minority rights protection. MRG recently drew attention to European double standards in the fact that some existing EU states including the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Greece, have failed to ratify the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), despite a requirement for accession states to do so as a condition of entry. MRG has lobbied for Europe-wide ratification of the FCNM which it considers a valuable minimum standard for minority rights protection particularly for the most marginalized within society.
Notes for editors
For more information, contact the MRG Press Office on press