British newspapers are on the fray as the European Commission on Human Rights accused them of publishing misleading reports. The ECHR emailed a statement to reporters that it was concerned about the “frequent misinterpretation” of the ECHR’s activities in UK newspapers.
Compensation and Costs
The ECHR pointed out that the press service had taken a “serious misinterpretation” of many variables in the statement. For example, one scenario had one UK newspaper report that Human Rights judges had awarded 202 criminals with taxpayer money amounting to £4.4 million, which means they are given £22,000 for compensation. However, the true amount is only within £1.7 million.
According to the ECHR, the newspapers’ failure to distinguish between compensation and costs, and making the common error of combining the two, creates an impression that people were awarded more than they were actually due. Some newspapers were also accused of writing the sums as if it were for the applicants’ sole benefit.
Most newspapers label even the costs to be part of the compensation of an applicant. Why the amounts of costs and expenses were higher than compensation is because legal fees are very high in the United Kingdom.
Not Even Legal Experts
Erik Friberg, the registrar of the ECHR, said that many newspapers in the United Kingdom had portrayed ECHR judges as “not even legal experts”. Because of the UK media’s interpretation of the judges’ activities, they appear to have a distorted picture of the court’s decisions and the statement they made is a first attempt to correct the situation.
Friberg said that judges were primarily concerned with reporters who had failed to see the proper summaries for their conclusions with the court’s press office and never even bothered to seek a response from the ECHR representatives itself.
Misinterpretation is very common among journalists, but it is often corrected with proper sources. Because courts are “closed”, most media journalists only depend on press duties the courts provide. However, the proper separation of terminologies and the right impression of language and wording is what ECHR is worried about.
However, the ECHR’s complaint is timely as the UK media is set to bring about a human right’s challenge against the UK government for the impending press regulation plans.