Monday, 25 June 2007

Complaint filled with Ofcom, against Sky News

Sir,

Sky News broadcasted a story and published it on its Web Site, at 13:31, Sunday, June 24 2007, with the tittle: “Child Trafficking 'Link' To Missing Girl”

In that story, we can read the following:

“The abduction of Madeleine McCann may be linked to a trafficking network that sees children put on the market for £7,000, detectives have said. Eastern European gangs are holding auctions in supermarket car-parks in Portugal and France. Officers in France have released details of the trade, as they believe it may be related to the four-year-old's disappearance, a Sky source said. In one case, the mother of a baby boy was arrested for attempting to sell her baby North of Lisbon (…)”

What really happened, in the case referred as “the mother of a baby boy that was arrested for attempting to sell her baby North of Lisbon has no relation at all with “Eastern European gangs (…) holding auctions (to sell children) in supermarket car-parks in Portugal (…)”, as described by Sky News.

Because of this lack of relation between reality and what Sky News broadcasted and published on its Web site, what happened in Sousel, a small city in Alentejo, can not have any connection “to a trafficking network that sees children put on the market for £7,000 (…)”. For the same reason, that episode also can not be related with Madeleine McCann abduction.

This is what happened, on May 26 and was subject of news, in Diário de Notícias (1), a Portuguese daily newspaper, and at least, another four Portuguese newspapers and a radio station (2), between May 26 and May 29:

1 - A couple of Romanian gypsies, currently living in Guimarães, North of Portugal, was accused, by local residents of Sousel, a small city in Alentejo, of trying to sell his three months old baby. They knocked at several doors, in Sousel, and asked the residents if they wanted to buy the baby. Cecília Guimarães, a woman of 34 years to whom the Romanian couple first offered the baby, told the mother to give the child to an institution, as “the baby was crying from hunger”. The mother refused and went away.

2 - Cecília Guimarães went immediately to Police and filled a report about the case. She told Diário de Notícias (1) that the mother didn't asked for a specific amount of money, she just wanted to sell the baby. Few minutes after, GNR (Portuguese rural police) detained the Romanian couple. The baby showed signals of being undernourished and dehydrated, so the local “Child Protection Commission” (a Government body with legal authority to act in any situation where a child is in danger) gave orders to GNR to send the baby to Paediatric Section of Portalegre Hospital, where she was recovering well, at May 28.

3 - The parents, 20 and 35 years old, were submitted to a court hearing in the same date. The court decided to send the baby to a Catholic institution, “Lar do Sagrado Coração de Maria”, and a final decision on her destiny will be made after further inquiries, as Diário de Notícias (3) wrote, on May 29

I believe that Sky News story is a serious breach of the principles stated in “Section 5” (Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions) of “The Ofcom Broadcasting Code”, as it is a MANIPULATION OF ONE SINGLE CASE, and ALMOST ALL THE FACTS, in what concerns to Portugal, ARE FAKE, MISLEADING AND DISTORTED.

Looking forward to hear from you,

Paulo Reis
Pjcv.reis@gmail.com

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