Every Human Being Deserves A Private Death
Honorable OANA Members,
The widespread use and distribution of human dignity undermining visuals of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as he died after being shot and lynched, across world media is disturbing and strongly violates media ethics and human dignity.
Every human being, whether an innocent victim or a world-wide famous tyrant and dictator, deserves a private death. Media ethics adopted across the globe, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Criminal Court, American Broadcasting Act 1994, International Court of Justice, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, every religion and creed ask us to show this minimum respect to an individual.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants every human being ‘the right to life, liberty and security of person’ and says ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. Even in a war, everyone is entitled to a fair and public trial whatever the charges against him or her.Editorial guidelines of many international news organizations stress the importance of respect for privacy of the individual and protecting the dignity of the dead.
Their style books strictly warn their staff against portraying graphic material of human suffering and distress, broadcasting moment of death as well as portrayal of close-ups of faces, heavy injuries and scars of violence.
Following the rules of respect for human dignity and privacy world media in common consent withheld the gruesome pictures of Gaddafi’s victims in Lockerbie many years ago. However, the same rules were not applied to his death.
What on earth has happened to the ethical rules that these renowned news organizations called universal and why were they ignored when they got hold of shocking pictures of Gaddafi and his sons being lynched?
Some extremely horrific images that could even be called as “death pornography” were emblazoned on front pages of many mainstream papers and TV screens around the world. Unfortunately all the international news agencies helped the spread of these images in their rush to compete.
We, as Anadolu Agency, refused to carry these pictures and video clips. We found them both offensive and in violation of media ethics and human rights. Images and visuals help shape the collective memory of human history. Pictures of blood and gore and indecency deflects the focus of the story and cheapen human life, incite people to hatred and more violence.
These images are culturally offensive and insensitive too and reinforce the unjustified and unfair depiction of Muslims around the world as uncivilized, violent and barbarian people.
As the President of OANA, I firmly believe that we should discuss all these issues at the 50th anniversary meeting of our organization in Bangkok, Thailand in December and define new editorial guidelines. We as news agencies have in recent years focused our discussions more on new technologies and new media platforms. However, it is time we should go back to our core activity of reporting and discuss our attitudes in the face of terror, violence, uprisings, wars between ethnic and religious groups and natural disasters.
President of OANA,
Chairman and Director General of Anadolu Agency