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Saturday, July 26, 2014

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CIJA rejects apology for Ethiopian contraception story

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David Ouellette

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has rejected Radio-Canada’s clarification of a report that the Israeli government administered controversial birth control to Ethiopian women in that country, calling it misleading and a distortion of the facts.

On March 5, journalist Khady Beye reported on the Radio-Canada radio show Médium large that Israel had forced Ethiopian immigrants over a period of years to be injected with a form of long-term birth control without their consent.

In a letter sent to the French-language public broadcaster on the same day, CIJA requested that the radio show make a correction, given that the journalist had presented “contradictory allegations as facts.”

On April 1, Sylvie Julien, content chief of Première Chaîne Radio-Canada, replied that the journalist had used respectable sources, such as Le Point, Jeune Afrique, Slate Afrique and The Times of Israel, although CIJA points out that she didn’t mention these on air.

CIJA presented Radio-Canada with additional sources, such as Associated Press, the BBC, the London Telegraph, the Montreal Gazette, Ha’aretz and The Times of Israel, which reported denials by Israeli authorities and representatives of the Israeli-Ethiopian community of such events ever having taken place. 

In acknowledgment, the radio show posted links to these articles on its website, without making a correction or apologizing for it journalist having presented disputed allegations as facts, said CIJA spokesperson David Ouellette.

CIJA responded to Julien stating that if the show did not make a correction on air, Radio-Canada would be ignoring its own policy with respect to the correction of errors.

“This policy states that in the interest of accuracy, integrity and equity, the organization will not hesitate to correct an important error when it is established that one was made,” Ouellette explained.

The next day, Julien informed CIJA that the show would make clarifications on the air.

On April 4, Médium large published a clarification on its website and Beye explained herself on air in an exchange with host Catherine Perrin.

Beye said, “Yes… I cited articles which were published by Le Point, Slate Afrique and Jeune Afrique, which reported these allegations, but there were also articles published which provided another view of the situation.

“According to, among others, l’Agence de Presse Reuters, the BBC and the website Israel Info, the Israeli authorities denied adopting such policies to control the birth rate among Ethiopian immigrant women, and the BBC reported that Israel intends to create an investigation committee composed of officials of the Health Ministry, an independent doctor and a representative of the Israeli-Ethiopian community, to confirm that the policy of forced contraception never occurred.”

However, Ouellette said, during the original March 5 broadcast, Beye never mentioned which sources she was relying on, or that her sources merely “ alleged” that the Israeli government had administered long-term contraceptives to Israeli women without their knowledge.

In fact, he said, she stated that, for eight years, the Israeli government forced Ethiopian women immigrants arriving in Israel to take a long-term contraceptive injection, which they were told was a vaccine.

“It is regrettable that a month after broadcasting false information, Radio-Canada can do no better than to treat the faulty sources used by Ms. Beye as equally credible and legitimate as media reports that are factually accurate and complete,” CIJA said in a statement.

“The public is entitled to receive from Radio-Canada a clear and unambiguous correction of this seriously flawed piece of journalism. Once again, Radio-Canada disappoints and leaves us not alternative but to pursue our complaint with the public broadcaster’s ombudsman.”

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