Presentation of the Media Manual “Fighting for Equality”

On the occasion of 10 December, the International Human Rights Day, Brankica Janković  the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality presented Media Manual “Fighting for Equality”, that was developed with the support of  the OSCE Mission in Serbia.

Commissioner said that the Manual was not intended as a textbook, but rather as a tool for all journalists reporting on human rights, protection against discrimination and promotion of tolerance.

She underlined the importance of media’s role in shaping the public opinion and added that in most cases journalists report appropriately, although situation is far from being perfect since these issues are not receiving sufficient media coverage. She also said she hoped that this Media Manual would contribute to better reporting and fewer cases of discrimination in the media.

We believe that no one wants to discriminate, to insult or hurt someone. I think that journalists sometimes just don’t know to pick the right words when reporting about certain issues. We could not do our job without media, because when someone fails to comply with Commissioner’s recommendation we inform public about that in accordance with Law, said the Commissioner Janković.

Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia Andrea Orizio said that the media play a key role in raising awareness about discrimination and that they are the crucial stakeholders in strengthening a society without discrimination.

Orizio added that the Media Manual is another example of cooperation between the OSCE Mission in Serbia and the Commissioner in promoting human rights, tolerance, equality and diversity.

Professor at Faculty of Political Sciences Veselin Kljajić said that the values of democratic societies are reflected in nurturing human rights and that the manual presents the missing link in the legal system related to media.

We see that the media can often act as discriminators and create offensive content, said Kljajić and stressed that this Media Manual would be introduced as obligatory reading for third and fourth year university students as well as for those attending master studies.

One of researchers and authors, Tatjana Jakobi warned that a large number of media outlets break the Codex of Journalists, not only in part related to spreading stereotypes but also spreading hatred. She also said that everybody must know that the thin line between freedom of speech and hate speech must not be crossed.

She also said that information about reporting on these sensitive issues should be obligatory not only for journalist who write political and social columns, but for every journalist, because there is discrimination in reporting on other areas like economy, sport…

Professor of the Faculty of Law in Belgrade Ivana Krstić presented more instruments that advocate premise of equality and forbid discrimination at international level. She explained that those instruments were introduced by United Nations, Council of Europe and the European Union and that there is a difference between European and universal instruments.

Goal of the Media Manual „Fighting for Equality“ is to familiarize the media with the national and international anti-discrimination legal framework, to represent a guide to all journalists who deal with issues of equality and non-discrimination, coupled with real life cases the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and European Court of Human Rights dealt with. This publication has the „Tolerance Glossary“, the list of anti-discriminatory, gender sensitive and less known terms with explanations.

Authors of the manual are Commissioner Brankica Janković, prof. Dr Ivana Krstić, Antigona Andonov and Tatjana Jakobi.

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