Valiantsin Stefanovich petitions head of state TV company over discrimination of death convict
On June 1, the state-run TV channel “Belarus-1” in showed in a program “Secrets of Investigation” a story which told about the murder in Mahiliou prison.
In this story, which told the audience about the circumstances of the murder committed by Ryhor Yuzepchuk and his accomplice, who killed their cellmate, in the context of the negative characteristics of the person that repeatedly stated his nationality. The story used the phrases “it was all clear with the Gypsy Yuzepchuk”, “with poorly educated Roma Yuzepchuk”, “according to the words of the Gypsy”, “convicted Gypsy Yuzepchuk” etc. At the same the program did not specify the nationality of his partner Pavel Petrakou and the victim Ihar Khodanau, who also received extremely negative characteristics in the story.
According to human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich, such indication of the nationality of the perpetrator may contribute to xenophobia and discriminatory behavior in the society, as well as the formation of extremely negative treatment of representatives of the entire Roma minority in our country.
According to the professional code of the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the professional code of the Belarusian Union of Journalists, it is prohibited to disseminate hatred calls in the press.
“A journalist shall refrain from any forms of justification for aggression and other forms of violence, hatred and discrimination, totalitarianism and tyranny. A journalist respects the characteristics, values and dignity of every national culture and the right of nations to self-determination, to freedom to choose their political and socio-economic system. Through one’s activities, he or she helps to avoid ignorance, misunderstanding and suspicion between nations, promotes a culture of international relations, awakens in his or her readers, viewers, listeners sensitivity to the needs of other people, respect for the rights and dignity of all nations and all people, regardless of gender, race, language, ethnicity, religion and ideological beliefs,” says the Professional Code of the Belarusian Union of Journalists.
Members of the NGO “Belarusian Association of Journalists” declare that they will adhere to the following principles of professional ethics: “Prevent racial, national, religious, sex, gender, political and other kinds of discrimination.”
In an address to Chairman of the Belarusian TV and Radio Company Henadz Davydzka, the human rights defender notes that, unfortunately, is not the first time that a criminal chronicle of the Belarusian TV indicates the Roma nationality of criminals or those suspected of committing crimes.
“This practice is incorrect in relation to citizens of the Roma minority and is indicative of low professional qualities of the journalists who allow such generalizations,” says Valiantsin Stefanovich.
He urges Mr. Davydzka to check on the facts, as well as to instruct the authors of the program on the inadmissibility of such incidents in the future.