“Children deserve ethical media”
Open letter to the media of the Kyrgyz Republic
Dear members of the media,
Over the last days, we all have followed the outcome of the trial of perpetrators of a horrific case of rape of a 13-year-old girl, in which two of the accused men have been acquitted and the third one has been processed for a lighter charge. As an immediate response, UNICEF, in partnership with UN Women and OHCHR, published a statement, calling to end impunity for violence against girls.
I would like to deeply thank all of you for bringing to the light this case, ensuring that it received due attention and a chance for justice to be established, as well as for the broad coverage provided to the statement, helping us to provide outreach on the urgent need in Kyrgyzstan to create a safe environment for every girl and every woman.
To this end, not only the authorities have a major role to play for the protection of children from violence, with specific attention to sexual abuse and exploitation, but the media are also key actors in this endeavour.
Since the case broke out in the news, I am deeply concerned to see that, in order to cover the news, many of the media in Kyrgyzstan have been unveiling private information related to the girl, exposing her and her family to additional pressure and harm. In particular, this puts at risk her mental health and her right to anonymity and privacy. Girls who have suffered from sexual violence deserve to be protected also from such unwelcome exposure.
Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) establishes that all children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. In line with this article, we call to all media to be on the right side of the story. Journalists have the power to drive narratives and the duty to report in an ethical and responsible way. When reporting on children, please, consider the “Principles and guidelines for media reporting on children” that we are sharing for your consideration. And please, do keep in mind the following guiding principle: the best interest of the child. Think, act and report as if this was your own child. In this case and in future cases, respect children right to heal and recover.
Following the briefing we shared with many of you in 2019, UNICEF will continue working jointly with all of you in 2021 on ethical reporting on children, and we reaffirm our commitment to support all media who want to reinforce their capacity in this regard and improve their reporting related to children’s issues. Do not hesitate to reach out to our team for further information and support. Let´s work together to make sure every child can grow safely in Kyrgyzstan.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.