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Ensure there is no place in British news for genocidal language

This petition had 118 supporters

Last week the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) rejected complaints about a column in The Sun newspaper by Katie Hopkins, in which she compared migrants to cockroaches and suggested we should use gunships instead of rescue boats. IPSO defended its decision on the basis that the majority of complaints received related to clause 12 of the Editors’ Code of Practice and, since the article did not target an individual, but rather a specific group, it is not considered to be in breach of breaking the code. This has led to organisations, such as the National Union of Journalists and Impress, to criticise the decision – stating that the regulator should accept third party complaints.

As someone with a BA in journalism and an MA in ethnic conflict and human rights I find IPSO’s decision in this matter to be wholly negligent. The inflammatory language and suggested undertones of violence towards a specific section of our society was reminiscent of the language used by the media in Rwanda before and during the genocide, where Tutsis were also referred to as ‘cockroaches’.  It is utterly indefensible that the organisation tasked with regulating the press has, in short, condoned the language of genocide.

I am a passionate believer that journalism is one of the greatest tools we have to change the world for the better. Every day, journalists across the globe risk their lives to report on human rights abuses, hold governments to account and give a voice to those who are denied theirs. However, I also know what happens when the media is given a platform to encourage hostility and hatred to one or more groups within society. By failing to see that Hopkins' article is more than just a matter of ‘taste and offense’ the IPSO casts a shadow over the whole of the British news industry.

Therefore, please support this petition urging the IPSO to ensure there is no place in British journalism for genocidal language – and asking them to update the Editors’ Code of Practice to reflect this.

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Lizzy Norman needs your help with “Independent Press Standards Organisation, Matt Tee: Ensure there is no place in British news for genocidal language”. Join Lizzy and 117 supporters today.