Elham Asaad Buaras
Tabloid columnist Katie Hopkins has been blasted by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, after she likened migrants to cockroaches.
The Jordanian said that on April 17, Hopkins had used language in her Sun column similar to that used by newspapers and radio stations in Rwanda before the 1994 genocide that led to almost one million people being slaughtered.
In a scathing and extraordinary intervention, Al Hussein points out that the word “cockroaches” was used by both the Nazis and those behind the genocide in Rwanda, and urges the UK Government, media and regulators to respect national and international laws on curbing incitement to hatred.
“The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches. This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper” said Zeid.
Al Hussein said both Hopkins and the editors of Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper “should be held responsible” if “found in breach of the law.”
“I am an unswerving advocate of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but it is not absolute. Article 20 of the same covenant says: ‘Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law,’” he added.
In her article headlined “Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants” Hopkins said she was impassive to the plight of refugees dying while crossing the Mediterranean.
Hopkins wrote: “No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.”
Hopkins added: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ’Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.”
Hopkins later seemingly back tracked in her next column. She wrote: “I am reminded of the power of the pen. One should be brave enough to speak out – but aware of the dangers which lurk in the depths of our vocabulary.
“No one wants to see images of children drowned at sea, no matter what their journey or their destination.”
Referring to a petition (which has attracted 300,000 signatures) calling for The Sun to sack her as a columnist Hopkins said, “The next time you are thinking of clicking on a petition, don’t be angry about words.”
“Accept our opinions differ. Channel your outrage at the regimes causing people to flee. And be part of the solution.”
A Sun spokesman said she and the paper would not be commenting further.