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Sunday, September 20, 2020

PS Camara urges journalists to protect children’s privacy

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 Speaking Wednesday morning at the Girls Guide hall in Kanifing on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ethical reporting, Mr Lamin Camara said: “While the committee on the rights of children believes that media – both print and electronic – play a crucial role  in the efforts to realise the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the  Child, I must however emphasise that the media should not put children in harm’s way while reporting on them and their issues. Their privacy should be protected while reporting their involvement in criminal activities, sexual abuse and family problems among others.”

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It is crucial to note that The Gambia’s ratification and implementation of the CRC has brought children to the forefront and remains a critical national issue. Numerous players both national and international have begun to realise children’s rights through the media. Notwithstanding, concerns have been expressed about the influence on children of negative aspects of the media, especially programmes containing brutal violence and pornography and how to protect children from violence on television, in video films and social media.”

The information Ministry senior official also reminded journalists that Unicef is among the government’s main donors, catering for children by promoting and protecting their lives at national, regional and village levels. Unicef is committed in ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children- Victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation; and those with disability.

He added: “Your role as media practitioners in the implementation of the media support to advocacy component cannot be over-emphasised. This is because the media can serve as a powerful tool in supporting advocacy efforts for children and women by creating a strong programme visibility, focusing on the achievements and the remaining gaps. These evidence-based findings could be used by the media in their advocacy efforts, to develop key messages targeting policy and decision makers, community leaders, on issues negatively affecting the vulnerable segments of the population.

Fortunately, the media in many countries and The Gambia is no exception have voluntarily agreed to respect guidelines which among others offer protection of the privacy of the child, although such ethical standards are sometimes not adhered to. The Gambian media has demonstrated its commitment to promote change-related issues especially children’s rights and development through regular broadcast programmes and newspaper features.”

Communication specialist at Unicef, Sally Sadie Singhateh,  said the objectives of the training were to ensure that the rights and integrity of all children continue to be protected when they are referred to in the media

“Many of you already have the knowledge and skills to report appropriately on children, especially those who are the most at risk. This we have observed in your respective newspapers and radio stations; but new information on child protection are emerging practically every day and it is important that the media professionals are abreast with such information, especially those that are new in the field.   

“As The Gambia commemorates the 25th anniversary of the CRC this year, the government, Unicef and other significant stakeholders in child rights reinforce our  efforts to popularise the achievements that have been made in child rights as well as reduce the gaps by addressing some of the challenges of ensuring that every child enjoys his or her rights.”

Malick Jones, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and deputy director of the Department of Information Services  Ebrima Njie urged the media to promote and protect the rights of children while reporting on their issues as well observe the ethics of the profession concerning children.

Unicef organised the seminar in partnership with the Department of Information Services as part of the Media Support to Advocacy, a component under the Gambia Government- Unicef funded country programme 2012-2016.

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