On Tuesday, cameras in Hungary captured the attack of a Hungarian camerawoman against refugees attempting to enter into the country, which led to her dismissal from the channel she was working for.
Camerawoman Petra Laszlo worked for N1TV, a news channel affiliated to the right wing Jobbik party which is opposed to refugees and foreigners.
The video, recorded by a German journalist, shows Laszlo tripping up a refugee who is holding a child, as well as kicking a refugee child as she ran past her- all whilst filming.
The immediate decision taken by the channel to dismiss the journalist from her job was a reflection of the channel’s adherence and commitment to the professionalism and ethics of the profession of journalism, as well as the accountability practised by media outlets amongst one another, which in turn assists in imposing these ethics. This is obvious in the fact that most media outlets which covered this violation condemned it severely, which in turn pushed the channel in taking its decision to fire Laszlo immediately.
This event brings to mind the ongoing violations committed by media figures in the Arab world- which have no other media channels to shed light on their practises and reveal their violations, and which have no media institutions to follow them up- confirming that their violations are implemented in line with their institutions, or at least with the go ahead from their management.
Firstly: Racial Incitement and Broadcasting Hate Speech
The last couple of years have seen a number of cases in which media figures in the Arab world have broadcasted speeches inciting hatred towards Syrian refugees.
These cases have predominantly taken place in Egypt and Lebanon, with tens of cases being documented in which members of the media broadcasted hate speech against Syrians living there, including accusations made by media supportive of the Syrian regime of Syrians taking part in “Marriage jihad” and active calls of employing violence against them.
In 2013, presenter Yusuf al-Husseini called for violence to be employed against Syrian refugees in Egypt in order to discipline them for what he described as their support for the “removed president” (i.e. Mohammed Mursi).
In the same manner, the presenter Tawfeeq Akasha threatened Syrians living in Egypt, saying that all their addresses had been collated, and that their homes would be destroyed within 48 hours if they cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood Movement.
Secondly: Inciting Murder and Human Rights Violations
And in an unlimited number of cases, the official Syrian media and its partner channels have advertised the war crimes committed by the Syrian regime, with journalists displaying dead bodies in an inappropriate manner. In a famous incident, journalist Michelin ‘Aazoor of Dunya channel covered the massacre of Daraya (25/8/2013) by interrogating a young female child who was hiding by the body of her mother who was killed in the massacre.
And at the time in which the Lebanese army undertook a number of military activities at the Irsaal refugee camp in August 2015, a number of Lebanese journalists tweeted for the expulsion of Syrian refugees from Lebanon (e.g. Tony Khalifa); and some even called for them to be killed, as is the case with the journalist Rihab Daahir.
And in an unlimited number of interviews, television programmes and articles, journalists have called for the use of military power and for the killing of protestors.
For example, in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV channel on 18/2/2015, the political analyst and Syrian regime supporter, Talib Ibrahim, mentioned that the “the regime must use Nuclear weapons against those who oppose it”.
In another interview in 2011, Ibrahim also said that the killing of protestors is obligatory and a must, and that live bullets must be used against them.
Thirdly: Violations against Children and Women
The past couple of years have seen many Syrian channels broadcasting “confessions” of children and women, as well as that of elderly men, in which they confess to committing crimes and acts which are against the regime, including confessions made by the children of taking part in sexual acts.
In addition to the illegality of portraying those accused on media before they are issued sentences and the illegality of displaying the confessions made by children even if sentences were issued against them, all detainees found in Syrian prisons were not detained in a legal manner in any case. They are also routinely tortured, making all televised and non-televised confessions legally inacceptable.
The following are examples of confessions broadcasted on official Syrian channels by children kidnapped by the security apparatus. The fate of these children following their televised appearance is unknown.
The confession of the child Imran Adnan Qadoor: born in 1999 and from Tareeq al-Salmiah in Hama. In his televised appearance he confessed to participating in an armed group, kidnapping people and torturing and even killing them. The interview was broadcast on the official Syrian News channel on 9/10/2013.
The confession of the child Sha’ban Abdullah Hameeda: (13 years at the time). He confessed to killing 23 people in his appearance on the Syrian Channel on 5/10/2013.
The confession of the child Sara Khalid al-Aloo: (15 years at the time). In her televised appearance on 11/8/2013, she confessed to participating in illegal sexual activities with fighters, and that she is the head of the Nusra Front division in AlboKamal.
Confession of the child Rawan Milad Qaddah: (16 years at the time). In her confession on the Syrian channel on 22/9/2013, she said that her father would bring her fighters to participate in illegal sexual activities with her. Rawan was kidnapped by the security apparatus in November 2012.
Fourthly: Spreading False Lies and not Apologising
The false accusations of “Marriage Jihad” spread amongst a number of journalists and presenters who went about broadcasting this false news, saying that this was the fatwa of the Saudi sheikh Mohammed al-Arifi which they obtained from a fabricated tweet which had spread at the time.
And in Egypt, the presenter Mohammed al-Ghidhi accused Syrian female refugees of practising prostitution (or what he called Marriage jihad) with the protestors in Rab’aa Square at the time (2013).
A number of media channels also used images from Chechnya, claiming it was from Syria, without apologising later for its use.
Results and Recommendations
The above examples make clear that official Syrian media and a number of media channels which are partner to the regime, as well as some of the Arab media, have witnessed dangerous violations committed by their figures and journalists, or from the channels and institutions themselves, in the last couple of years.
In all the examples mentioned, the figures did not even apologise for their actions (with the exception of the presenter Yusuf al-Husseini who partly apologised in a later series of his programme), and their institutions did not take any action against them.
In addition, the media in both Arab and non-Arab countries have not condemned these violations- with the exception of the media channels who are politically opposed to those who committed the violations- reflecting an absence of a code of ethics and professionalism for the majority of the media in the region.
SHRC would like to seize the opportunity of the dismissal of the Hungarian camerawoman due to her disgraceful behaviour in attacking Syrian refugees, to call upon the media of the Arab world to commit themselves to the code of ethics and professionalism of their professions and to respect human rights. SHRC also calls for the accountability of media figures that broadcast hate speech, racism and incite others to kill. SHRC hopes that this accountability will begin from within the institutions for which these figures work, before it is conducted by other institutions and by well known legal channels.
Please note: All videos of the above examples have been provided in the Arabic report. They have not been added to the English report as no translations exist.