COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
In accordance with Article 6 of the European Code of Standards, any individual or organisation that believes that a member of the European Fact-Checking Standards Network significantly failed to fulfil the requirements of the Code, if the complaint is not satisfied by the organisation concerned, can submit a complaint to the European Fact-Checking Standards Network for evaluation by the Governance Body.
The Governance Body won’t examine issues related to a single publication unless it consists of a significant breach of the requirements of the Code.
The complaint must be submitted through the following specific form:
The opportunity to involve the European Fact-Checking Standards Network, if a complaint is not satisfied by the organisation concerned, must be specified in the websites of all the members, in their corrections policy (see article 3.3).
How will the EFCSN handle complaints?
In accordance with Article 6. 1 of the European Code of Standards, the Governance Body can appoint a Complaints reviewer to assist with complaints received against the EFCSN members.
The main tasks of the Complaints reviewer are:
- To carry out a preliminary analysis of all the complaints and inform the Governance Body of any that are rejected because they are disingenuous, constitute harassment or are manifestly baseless.
To carry out a preliminary analysis of all the complaints and inform the Governance Body of any that
are rejected because they are disingenuous, constitute harassment or are manifestly baseless.
- To notify the member concerned, specifying the required correction and asking the member to comply in the following 7 working days.
- If the member complies, to notify the complainant about the correction.
- If the member doesn’t comply, to notify the Governance Body, which will evaluate the complaint.
- To highlight to the Governance Body cases of repeated or major violations.
In accordance with Article 6. 2, complaints will be handled according to the following procedure:
- The Governance Body, when dealing with accusations of significant failures to comply with the Code, has the final word about compliance. To be valid, the decision on whether a violation has occurred requires a qualified majority of ⅔ of the voting members of the Governance Body. For the decision to be valid, the voting members must be at least 50%+1 of the total members of the Governance Body.
- Before the vote, the Governance Body must give the organisation accused of failing to fulfil the requirements of the Code the right to reply and defend itself, and seek the mandatory but not binding opinion of an external assessor (see article 5.4). The opinion of the external assessor must address any failure to fulfil the requirements of the Code, its gravity and a proposed sanction or a spectrum of applicable sanctions.
- The final decision of the Governance Body must be explained. The final outcome is communicated to the interested parties in the following 7 working days, and it is made publicly available in an “Annual report”. The “Annual report” must be published in the first 6 months after the end of the relative year.
- The whole Compliance procedure must be concluded in no more than 60 working days and the Governance Body decision will be considered final and binding.
- Governance body members must recuse themselves from assessments of their own organisations to avoid a conflict of interest.
Can EFCSN organisations be sanctioned if found in breach of the European Code of Standards?
In accordance with article 6. 3, the following sanctions are contemplated. The severity of the imposed sanction is always related to the seriousness of the breach of the Code.
The possible sanctions, from the least to the most severe, are:
- A private formal advice or reprimand that specifies the actions needed.
- A public formal reprimand that specifies the actions needed.
- The suspension of the organisation’s right to vote in all the bodies of the EFCSN , for a period that ranges from 3 months to 3 years.
- The suspension of membership, for a period that ranges from 3 months to 3 years.
- The withdrawal of membership, and the prohibition to reapply for a period that ranges from 3 years to 5 years.
Repeatedly failing to comply with requirements of the Code with identical or similar behaviours is reason to impose more severe sanctions.