Norwegian press watchdog rejects pro-government Eritrean complaint

The background to this ruling was the report carried by NRK that members of the Eritrean diaspora went a meeting celebrating Eritrean government policies, despite claiming asylum in Norway for having escaped indefinite conscription, or ‘National Service.’

This report is computer translated.

Liv Ekeberg, Sylo Taraku and Frode Hansen at the PFU meeting on 29 January.
Liv Ekeberg, Sylo Taraku and Frode Hansen at the PFU meeting on 29 January. (Photo: Erik Szabo)

PFU: NRK and Dagsrevyen did not break the good news for Norwegian Eritreans

NRK was not fielded in the Press’s Academic Committee for the much-discussed feature of Norwegian Eritreans at a party.

NRK did not break good press for a feature on Norwegian Eritreans in Dagsrevyen 2 September 2019, as well as an online article titled: “Norwegian Eritreans went to a party for the regime they fled from”.

This was stated by the Press’s Trade Committee (PFU) at Wednesday’s meeting.

The committee agreed, and several praised NRK for their journalism in the discussion round.

“They are nowhere near breaking the Weather Varsom poster,” said committee member Liv Ekeberg. 

The recommendation of the PFU Secretariat was also that NRK has not broken good press practice.

Read the case papers at PFU here!

Both the TV show and the webpage are about the 25th anniversary of the National Service and the Sawa recruiting school in Eritrea, and it turns out that this military duty service is the
main reason many Norwegian Eritreans have been granted asylum in Norway.

Complaints are Eritrean association in Oslo, and they believe NRK will come up with falsehoods about the event, and that the Weather-Varsom poster (VVP) has been broken on several points – including points 3.2 and 4.4.

Complainants believe, among other things, it is wrong that the party was for the regime in Eritrea or a celebration of the military service.

The recommendation of the PFU Secretariat states:

« NRK could have more clearly expressed the uncertainty as to whether the organizer had planned such a marking of the military service. The committee also sees that NRK in the online article addressed a formulation related to the advertisement, when NRK became aware of the complainant’s reaction, cf. VVP 4.13. This was also stated at the bottom of the article.

However, the Committee believes that this imprecision is not enough to trap NRK. The committee believes that at the time of publication NRK had sufficient grounds to describe the party in this way, cf. VVP 3.2 and 4.4.  

The committee also cannot see that the connection between previous cases of asylum fraud and the mention of the celebration is insignificant. In the last article, the association is not mentioned either. The committee also sees that one of the sources in the case nuances the motive for participating in the party. “.

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