- Article Written by Xescu Prats, Diario de Ibiza
- Introduction by Nick Gibbs, Editor
Name & Shame?
There are many differences in the standards adopted by the press in the U.K. and Spain. For example, in the U.K. you are very unlikely to see a corpse on Television news. In Spain it is not unusual. Neither way is right or wrong, they are simply different.
However, I am often challenged by readers about a lack of consistency in how identities are reported. To cut to the chase this is usually questioned in it being a decision taken by us in some conspiratorial agenda of choosing who we decide to protect or not. It isn’t, and perhaps reading this article may help any doubters believe us.
I understand the reason people would question why we sometimes name perpetrators and sometimes do not, because what we are used to in the U.K. is consistency. Nothing to do with differences, but if something is reported one way, in general terms it is always reported that way. And there is also an expectation and understanding that publicity is part of the penalty and of the deterrent.
Example. If a builder was caught fly tipping in the U.K., you would expect to see that crime reported including the name of the building company responsible. If you read an article in a newspaper that reported the fly-tipping, the amount of waste, the location it occurred, the amount of fine and any other penalty, you would consider it very odd if it did not name the builder. Quite often the naming and shaming of a responsible party would be the biggest part of any penalty impact applied. Also, the deterrent. A £1,000 fine alone may not deter our dodgy builder from committing an offence that he had perpetrated many times uncaught and so saved himself 10 times the court imposed penalty. But having his company name emblazoned across the front of his local newspaper may have far greater deterrent effect.
This is the ‘system’ most of those reading this article will be used to. Name and shame in action. But now imagine you lived in a society that did not name the perpetrators of such crimes. You would read the fly tipping report and see nothing untoward in their not naming the responsible party. These two approaches to reporting the facts are different, but who is to decide which is right and which is wrong? I would be confident that in times of calls for ‘transparency’, as mentioned by Xescu, most people would come down on the side that the wrongdoers should be named. But either approach, if applied consistently, would have to be considered fair in so far as all people were treated equally.
What feels indefensible to me, is when the authorities decide themselves on what occasions the perpetrators of crimes should be named. Where there is no consistency. And they take their decisions arbitrarily with no guide or common standard followed.
As Xescu says, why should Amnesia be named for one infraction of laws relating to trading conditions of leisure venues, when we have recently published two press releases where the same Sant Antoni town hall has chosen not to name those responsible of very similar infractions?
This is a regular frustration in our reporting, particularly when we know full well who they are talking about, but we have to publish without naming them, knowing that social media will soon fill in the gaps once the piece is published – and quite often with an allegation of ourselves being part of some cover up.
This situation in Ibiza has nothing to do with differences between our expectations from a U.K. upbringing and the standards and customs of Spain. It is not about difference; it is about consistency. And in this respect, backed with the thoughts of a 100% local writer, I feel able to break with the usual policy of not criticizing our Spanish hosts’ way of things and say the practice of the Ibiza authorities is wrong. This lack of consistency, aside from the unfairness to the parties involved, does nothing to gain the public’s trust of the Government. It does nothing to undo the long held notions that in Ibiza it is not what you know, but who you know, that is important.
Most of our readers will have grown up in a society where consistency in application of the law and certainly the publicly available information relating to penalties for breaking the law, is a generally accepted and expected concept. Perhaps in Spain, but certainly in Ibiza, that isn’t the case. Many of my Spanish friends do not have the same expectation and take this routine inconsistency with a shrug and level of acceptance that undervalues the level of expectation to which they should aspire. Xescu Prats deserves our respect for choosing to stand up and question the way of things. We are pleased to publish his article for the Diario de Ibiza here.
- Translation Notes: Since this is an opinion piece, translation has been limited to that necessary to easily understand the text. For example, you can understand that Xescu’s literal ‘fall asleep in the drawers’ is a Spanish idiom similar to the English ‘brushed under the carpet’. In this way we feel the writer’s personality and intent is more accurately reflected than with a full translation.
Infractores Anónimos SA, Violators Anonymous Ltd.
- Xescu Prats
One of the most shameful stories we have read in Autumn is that of a car rental company that has been using parking spaces at the Can Misses hospital for its fleet of vehicles.
This abuse is a major example of antisocial behaviour exploiting the currently free parking, a facility for the benefit of patients attending medical appointments or the relatives of admitted patients, not to save money for a private car rental company.
However, it is also a good case in point illustrating the extremely selective attitude of certain Pitiusan institutions, when putting names and surnames to offenders.
The shamelessness exhibited by this car rental company was made public during an official visit to the health centre that was also attended by the press. It was revealed by the manager of the Health Area of Ibiza and Formentera, Carmen Santos, who also added that the company had already been requested to remove the cars from there and refrain from re-parking them in the hospital parking lot. The manager, however, did not want to reveal the name of that company.
This protective barrier that rises around the offender is a frequent practice on the island and you just have to open a newspaper to become aware of it. There are several sectors of activity that appear to benefit especially from this selective anonymity, such as leisure, but also others such as beach concessionaires, which sometimes exploit more territory than their licence allows, plus of course illegal tourist rentals.
These infractions are notified to the media, sometimes even through press conferences. The relevant authorities explain what ordinances or laws have been breached, the penalties that such behaviour may incur and, at most, determine the area where the establishment or the company denounced operates, without further explanation.
If a journalist asks the corresponding institution for information on the identity of the company that has committed said irregularities or requests a history of non-compliances with names and surnames, it is systematically denied. The usual excuse is that technicians do not provide such information due to a data protection issue.
However, the randomness of this policy becomes surreal, when it is the administrations themselves that sometimes reveal the identity of the offender without anyone asking. There are many press releases that confirm this. A few days ago, without any journalistic enquiry, it was reported to the press that the Amnesia nightclub, during its closing party, breached the permitted opening hours and that Sant Antoni Council filed a complaint against them as a result. On this occasion, the institution did not have any problem naming the business. Why some yes and others no?
The only way that Pitiusa society can confidently and reliably follow the progress of complaints issued is to know their details from the moment they originate. It is unusual to contemplate how, in the end, some of them fall asleep in the drawers or are dismissed by the courts for insufficient evidence or any other bureaucratic or legal irregularity. This has happened with the recent cancellation, by the Court of Justice of the Balearic Islands, of a fine of almost 33,000 euros to the Ibifor company for exploiting more than a hundred sunbeds and other unauthorized elements above their quota, on the beach of Ses Salines.
If there is a buzzword in politics in recent years, it is “transparency.” However, the way businesses are selectively allowed anonymity goes against the most elementary right of the citizen to know the steps taken by the institutions to stop the abuses that occur in Ibiza. In times of supposed transparency, there is no more opaque policy.
Ibiza is dotted with anonymous offenders. Thanks to this incomprehensible protectionism, they get rid of a dose of bad publicity that would also contribute to justice and could even have a deterrent effect. Underlining the lack of citizenship and social conscience of the offender should be part of the penalty.