Sumary of Amnesty UK accused of ‘spreading false information’ about Northern Territory Covid outbreak:
- Amnesty UK has been accused of “spreading false information” about the Northern Territory’s Covid outbreak in an extraordinary joint statement from the territory’s peak Aboriginal health organisation and Amnesty’s own Australian operation.
- Disinformation about the Covid outbreak in Aboriginal communities near Katherine, spread by third parties online, was on Thursday described by the NT chief minister as “conspiracy theories” pushed by “tinfoil hat wearing tossers”.
- Amsant (the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory) and Amnesty Australia subsequently said they were “extremely disappointed” that Amnesty International UK had issued a press release with a headline that misrepresented the situation on the ground without first consulting Aboriginal people.
- “False information from social media is dangerous and corrosive to our communities but easily avoided by talking to the community-led health organisations that Amnesty seeks to defend, as they assert,” the Amsant chief executive, John Paterson, and Amnesty Australia director Sam Klintworth said in a joint statement.
- Amnesty International released a statement on Thursday via its UK office with the headline “Northern Territory: Australian defence force response to Covid-19 outbreak in Aboriginal communities must not inflict trauma”.
- “We’re very disappointed that Amnesty UK reissued a release that we at Amnesty Australia were very careful to ensure was doing precisely the opposite of feeding the spread of harmful information,” she said.
- There is no suggestion Amnesty UK deliberately intended to spread false information by adding the headline to the release.
- On Thursday, Aboriginal elders, health organisations and frontline workers in the Northern Territory condemned false information circulating on social media.