The United Nation’s Human Rights chief today accused reality TV star and tabloid columnist Katie Hopkins of inciting racial hatred after she described migrants making the perilous journey from Africa to Europe as “cockroaches”.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Zeid Ra’ad Al Husein said Hopkins had used language similar to that used by the Nazis in the years before the Third Reich began the massacre of Jews, homosexuals and what it described as “social outcasts”.
Mr Husein said Hopkins’ column, published in The Sun on 17 April, was reflective of a “nasty underbelly of racism that is characterising the migration debate in an increasing number of EU countries”.
“This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author”, Mr Husein said.
Tens of thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for Hopkins to be sacked over the column, in which she said: “Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants”.
She added that the “sight of dead floating bodies, coffins and skinny people looking sad” had “left her cold”.
“Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look like ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’ but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb”, she wrote.
The UK’s newspaper regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organization, said it had received hundreds of complaints about the article and that it was investigating whether the piece breaches the Editors Code.
Mr Husein urged UK authorities to take the complaints seriously and “examine the broader issue of incitement to hatred by the tabloid press and other sectors of society.
“This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long”, he added.
The article came as migrant boat tragedies in the Mediterranean escalated.
Already, more than 1,750 people have died this year making the sea crossing to try to reach Europe — 30 times higher than the same period in 2014.