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Media violated ethics code in child killing case, watchdog says

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The media ethics committee said Thursday that news outlets had violated the ethics code and were prejudiced and racist among others, when reporting the recent killing of a nine-year-old girl by her brother, 13.

In a written statement, the committee said the media violated the presumption of innocence by declaring the 13-year-old guilty but also his rights as a child since at that age he cannot be held legally responsible.

The media also “reported the two children’s and the family’s private data, like race, family situation, and other details, real and unreal, that reek of prejudice and racism.”

Some media outlets reported the statements of irresponsible neighbours and others, in their majority inaccurate, about the child, the conditions of his sister’s death, his school performance, and his character, the committee said.

“The culmination was the inconceivable claim of a neighbour, who used a derogatory term to describe the child’s supposed mental condition, which was reproduced by the mass media as if it was an indisputable scientific diagnosis.”

The committee urged reporters to adhere to the code, especially in the case of children, even if the facts were clear.

It also asked reporters to avoid using and adopting unsubstantiated information based on statements made by unrelated third parties.

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