Communicating Justice in Portugal: the Madeleine case
by João Duarte – September 24, 2007
Of the many possible angles to approach the terrible case of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, a tremendous shock to everyone in Portugal, the UK and arround the world, I decided to bring to this forum a communication point of view on this case.
In Portugal, one of the most residual PR/ Communication related debates is about how Portuguese justice deals with communication. The need to train Judges in Public Communication, the “Secret of Justice” law which prohibits the disclosure of some facts related with processes under investigation and its successive violations by the media, and the fear that some high impact trials might be biased by the pressure of public opinion – which explains a long lasting attempt by judges to clarify the difference between law and the “court of public opinion” – it all has been questioned here. But the Madeleine McCann case offers a wealth of possibilities to approach the issue of Communication & Justice. Two of my portuguese blogger friends (Renato Póvoas and Bruno Amaral) have blogged about the issue and inspired me write this…
But we shouldn’t also forget the personal dimension involved here, and I urge you to visit Ellee Seymour’s blog who I met through a post at David Brain’s sixtysecondview. She does a tremendous service to the cause of finding missing children.
n.b. Whilst Ellee Seymour has highlighted the cases of missing children on her blog, and I am full of praise for her for so doing, I have reservations about Ellee’s comment here:
“I believe totally in the innocence of the McCanns and think they have been treated in the cruellest way. The reason is probably because they are so successful in keeping this story in the media”.
It may be that Ellee is emotionally blind to the facts that have emerged, and/or because she is in PR herself she believes the PR put out by the McCann camp. I feel that she should have been more suspicious because of the PR spin.