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Posted by abduhu, Thu Jul-26-01 06:51 AM
In October 1999, Baroness Cox stated that Sudanese Government forces had used chemical weapons in locations in southern Sudan in July 1999. On 17 October the United Nations revealed that tests conducted by the laboratories of the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta on medical samples taken by Operation Lifeline Sudan members in the areas cited by Baroness Cox "indicated no evidence of exposure to chemicals". (20)
Baroness Cox supplied further samples which she claimed proved her case. In June 2000, the British government revealed the results of the "very careful analysis" of the samples provided by Baroness Cox and all other evidence. The samples had been tested by the British Defence Ministry's world-renowned chemical and biological weapons establishment at Porton Down (CBD). The results showed that the samples provided "bore no evidence of the CW agents for which they had been
tested". The British government also pointed out that in addition to the American tests, further samples had been tested by the Finnish institute responsible for chemical weapons verification. These too had been negative. The Government commented on the "consistency of results from these three independent sets of analysis". (21)
In October 1999, Baroness Cox claimed that the Sudanese Government had been involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York. (22) Any Sudanese involvement was unambiguously denied in 1996 by Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox Jr., the Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism when he stated: "We have looked very, very carefully and pursued all possible clues that there might be some state sponsorship behind the World Trade Centre bombing. We have found no such evidence, in spite of an exhaustive search, that any state was responsible for that crime. Our information indicates that Ramzi Ahmed
Yousef and his gang... did not rely on support from any state." (23)
As a general view on Baroness Cox's reliability, it is worth nothing that in Andrew Boyd's sympathetic biography of her, Baroness Cox: A Voice for the Voiceless, Dr Christopher Besse of Medical Emergency Relief International, a humanitarian aid organisation with which Cox is closely associated (Dr Besse and Baroness Cox are both trustees of Merlin), is quoted as saying:
"She's not the most popular person in Sudan among the humanitarian aid people. She has her enemies, and some of them feel she is not well- enough informed. She recognizes a bit of the picture, but not all that's going on." (24)
It must be emphasised that Dr Besse was referring specifically to the "humanitarian aid people". That the BBC chose to rely upon claims made by Baroness Cox, of whom even her friends say that she only "recognizes a bit of the picture" with regard to Sudan is disturbing.
It is not just Baroness Cox's credibility as a commentator that is deeply questionable. She is a self-evident partisan for one side of the Sudanese conflict. Even, the BBC stated that she was off to "help the rebels". It should be noted that The Economist has summed up the general image of the SPLA rebels in question:
" has...been little more than an armed gang of
Dinkas...killing, looting and raping. Its indifference, almost
animosity, towards the people it was supposed to be "liberating" was all too clear." (25)
The New York Times, a vigorous critic of the Sudanese government, states that the SPLA: "ave behaved like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging." (26) It also described the SPLA leader John Garang as one of Sudan's "pre-eminent war criminals". (27)

Why No Regard for the BBC Code of Ethics?
The BBC has a clear code of ethics for programme makers. This is the Producers' Guidelines and it advises on issues such as fairness and impartiality. (28) It is worth outlining what these guidelines are in order for Everyman: The Dangerous Adventures of Baroness Cox to be
assessed with them in mind. With regard to "impartiality", they declare
"Due impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC. All BBC programmes and services should be open minded, fair and show a respect for truth. No significant strand of thought should go unreflected or under represented on the BBC."
The Producers' Guidelines state that:
"The Agreement accompanying the BBC's Charter specifies that the
Corporation should treat controversial subjects with due acuracy and impartiality both in news programmes and other programmes that deal with matters of public policy or of political or industrial controversy."
With regard to "accuracy" the Producers' Guidelines state:
"We must be accurate and must be prepared to check, cross-check and seek advice to ensure this. Wherever possible we should gather information first-hand by being there ourselves or, where that is not possible, by talking to those who were. But accuracy is often more that a question of getting the facts right. All relevant information should be weighed to get at the truth of what is reported or described."
With regard to "Giving a Full and Fair View of People and Cultures", the Producers' Guidelines state that "When portraying social groups, stereotypes should be avoided".
In what could at best be described as lacklustre reporting on a
intensely sensitive subject, is for the reader to decide whether the producers of Everyman: The Dangerous Adventures of Baroness Cox followed the Producers' Guidelines or exercised anything like the requisite caution necessary in making this programme. There are a number of questions that need to be answered:
* Why was the clear issue of exactly what constitutes "slavery" not examined?
* Why were clearly articulated international concerns about the possibly fraudulent nature of precisely the sort of "slave redemption" claimed in the programme not discussed?
* Were the BBC aware of the public challenging of Baroness Cox's claims by southern Sudanese politician and Dinka elder Bona Malwal? If not, why not?
* Why were those who held legitimate opposing views to Baroness Cox only given 60 seconds of air-time in an hour-long programme? Does this constitute "due accuracy and impartiality" as outlined in the Producers' Guidelines?
* Can the BBC categorically state the "slave redemption" it claimed to have been party to was not one of the "staged redemptions" as outlined in the Harker Report?
* Can the BBC categorically state that thousands of dollars it filmed being passed to "traders" for "slave redemption" was not simply a kidnapping for ransom scheme or part of a deeper fraud?
* Could it be that the BBC was "misled" in believing that they were witnessing a "slave redemption"?
* Was the BBC not concerned that it was fuelling undeserved prejudice against Arabs and Muslims in its stereotyped portrayal of "Arab slave traders"?
* Was the BBC not concerned that Baroness Cox had repeatedly made
unsubstantiated or untrue claims with regard to Sudan? She has made very serious claims about Sudan and the Sudanese government which have been dismissed by sources that cannot be described as being supportive of the Sudanese government.
* Given that they may have self-evidently been "overeager or
misinformed" in accepting questionable claims about Sudan and that they may have been guilty of "lazy assumptions" with regard to the country, how does the BBC intend to address this issue?
* Does the BBC really think that such unquestioning acceptance of claims described as being rooted in "lazy assumptions" is really the best way of covering events in Sudan?

NB: This paper was originally published in printed form as "The BBC and
Sudan: A Case Study in Prejudice and Poor Reporting"

1 The SPLA is sometimes also referred to as the SPLM/A, a
reference to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
2 'Buying Slaves Is Wrong', International Herald Tribune, May 13,
3 John Harker, Human Security in Sudan: The Report of a Canadian
Assessment Mission, Prepared for the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Ottawa, January 2000, available at http://www.dfait-maeci.gc-foreignp-
3110186-e.pdf, p. 1.
4 Ibid., pp.39-40.
5 Alex de Waal, 'Sudan: Social Engineering, Slavery and War', in
Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 1997.
6 The article was published in two parts in The Atlantic Monthly
and is also available online in two parts. Part one is available at
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99jul/9907sudanslaves.htm and part two
at http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99jul/9907sudanslaves2.htm.
Miniter's work has previously appeared in The New York Times, The Wall
Street Journal and Reader's Digest.
7 William Finnegan, 'The Invisible War', The New Yorker, 25
January 1999.
8 'Rescue of slaves backfiring', The Denver Post, August 22,
9 'Aid group tries to break Sudan slavery chain', News Article by
Reuters on July 11, 1999 at 23:40:58.
10 "Slave 'Redemption' Won't Save Sudan", Christian Science
Monitor, 26 May 1999.
11 Peter Verney, Slavery in Sudan, Sudan Update and Anti-Slavery
International, London, May 1997, p.20.
12 The reference number of this submission to the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights is TS/S/4/97, and is available to view on the
Anti-Slavery International web-site at http://www.charitynet.org/asi/sub
13 The Times, (London), 30 January 2001, p.27.
14 Letter from Bona Malwal to Baroness Cox, 23 January 2000 posted
on South Sudan Net (http://southsudanet.net/baroness_caroline_cox_1_arne
15 'A Response to the Sudan Foundation' s "Questions" and
Criticisms of CSI's Work in Sudan', CSI Magazine, Issue 90, December
1997 available at http://home.clara.co.uk/csiuk/90page4.html.
16 House of Lords Official Report, 19th March 1998, cols. 818-820.
17 House of Lords Official Report, 19th March 1998, cols. 818-820.
18 Daily Telegraph, (London), 26 May 1998.
19 House of Lords, Official Report, 10 December 1998, written
answers, column 103.
20 Note by the Spokesman of the United Nations Secretary-General
handed to the Sudanese Ministry of External Relations by the UN Resident
Coordinator in Sudan, Philippe Borel.
21 Letter from Baroness Symons, Minister of State for Defence
Procurement, to Baroness Cox, (Reference D/MIN(DP)/ECS/13/3/3), 5 June
22 In correspondence with Lord McNair, 14 October 1999.
23 Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1996 Briefing, Press briefing by
Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox Jr, Washington-DC, 30 April 1996 on US
Government Home Page, at http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/96043
24 Andrew Boyd, Baroness Cox: A Voice for the Voiceless, Lion
Publishing, Oxford, 1998, p.324.
25 The Economist, March 1998.
26 'Misguided Relief to Sudan', Editorial, New York Times,
December, 1999.
27 Ibid.
28 See 'Producers' Guidelines', BBC Online, at http://www.bbc.co.u

end quote.

The Glorious Qur'an - Surah 6, Al-An'am:

75. So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he might (with understanding) have certitude.
76. When the night covered him over, He saw a star: He said: "This is my Lord." But when it set, He said: "I love not those that set."
77. When he saw the moon rising in splendour, he said: "This is my Lord." But when the moon set, He said: "unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray."
78. When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: "This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all)." But when the sun set, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah.
79. "For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah."

the biography of Prophet Muhammad (saws):

subhaanakallahumma (Glory be to you, Oh Allah), wabihamdika (and I praise You). ashhadu anla ilaha illa anta (I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except You). astaghfiruka (I seek Your forgiveness), wa attuubu ilaika (and I turn to You in Repentance).