The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Updated (2): Police report filed over Lowell’s disabled children comments, TV station fined by BA

Friday, 10 May 2019, 07:52 Last update: about 16 days ago

A local television station has been fined €1,160 by the Broadcasting Authority over a programme featuring Norman Lowell, during which the Imperium Europa leader passed nasty comments about children with disability.

The complaint was filed by the Commission for Persons Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), which also filed a police complaint.

The report was filed soon after Lowell was seen as having promoted eugenics during a TV interview on F-Living. 

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Lowell was reported to have said on TV that horribly mentally defective babies should be aborted or granted a benign mercy killing.

During the interview, he asked whether anyone enjoyed going to a village which was full of "village idiots" and whether anyone wanted "handicapped people".

Lowell was handed down a two-year jail term suspended for four years in 2008 after he was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and insulting the President of Malta.

In a decision handed down on 3 May, the Broadcasting Authority said Lowell had been reported over offensive comments and incitement of racial hatred. He had also associated aggressiveness with Muslims and said Africans have a lower IQ than Europeans, which might be considered to be xenophobic. His comments about killing severely disabled babies were also in breach of broadcasting laws, the authority said.

The BA said it had summoned F-Living CEO Karl Bonaci, who said that the station was observing directions given by the authority to give space to all leaders of parties that are contesting the European elections. Bonaci said that the channel was respecting freedom of expression by airing these programmes, adding that voters had a right to know what Lowell was proposing.

The BA said that, after taking all facts into consideration, and referring to decision it had previously taken in a similar case, said that while freedom of expression had to be upheld, this was not absolute and the rights of third parties had to be protected.

It said that certain comments, particularly those on disabled babies, were considered to be in bad taste and upheld the complaint, fining the station €1,160. The fine must be paid within 60 days of notification.

In a statement sent before the BA published its decision, Imperium Europa said that whoever watches the programme, which is available online, can notice the inconsistencies of the claim that Lowell promoted eugenics. “Lowell criticised abortion since this is responsible for millions of deaths of healthy babies. He went on to explain that it is in the interest of society to ensure a healthy citizenry,” the statement said. “Who wants to have handicapped people?” he asked, referring to those couples looking forward to have a baby.

Imperium Europa said it is against abortion but would tolerate this in three circumstances. It is not true that Lowell wants to kill disabled people, the statement added. 

With regard to the judgment handed down in 2008, the statement said Lowell was not found guilty of insulting the President of Malta.

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