The chairperson of the Society of Lithuanians in Iceland believes that the media reporting on the nationality of someone accused of a crime is unnecessary and reflects prejudice.
As reported, a young woman is in police custody, suspected of having put her newborn child in a trash can, where it was later found dead. Media coverage of the incident has repeatedly emphasised that the suspect is Lithuanian, as is her former fiancé, who took her to the hospital after the child was born, unbeknownst to him.
Lolita Urboniene, who heads the Society of Lithuanians in Iceland, told DV that she received numerous calls from Icelanders in the wake of the coverage, asking if it was common practice in Lithuania to dispose of unwanted children in the trash.
“We find it hurtful that [the media] is always pointing out that the woman is from Lithuania,” she said. “She could have been from anywhere. We don’t know why she did this, and this is a great tragedy.” In fact, the previous time such an incident occurred, 19 years ago, the suspect in question was Icelandic.
Lolita says that Lithuanian children have complained that they do not want to go outside, or tell others that they are Lithuanian, because of press coverage of this case pointing out the suspect’s nationality. “This is simply prejudice,” she added.
The debate on whether or not to print the nationalities of those suspected of committing crimes has been going on for a number of years in Iceland. Mayor Jón Gnarr once wrote a column for Fréttablaðið where he questioned the logic of the practice, as the implication is that the nationality of the suspect is related to the committing of a crime.