As part of its project “Access to Justice” implemented in Upper Egypt, the child-rights organization, Plan International Egypt, organised a workshop on child rights in media coverage of issues affecting children at their diversity.
The workshop was held in two stages, three days each. Participants were representing different media outlets including Daily News Egypt, Dar El Gomhuria, Radio and Television magazine, Gomhuria, El Shahed El Masry website, Horiaty Magazine, Alaa El Deen Magazine, Tiba TV, Mehwar TV, El-Bawaba News, Extra News TV, and Ganoub El Saed radio station.
The workshop tackled different topics including issues affecting children, particularly girls, and how media can cover such issues in a way that respects child rights, adhering to the national and international child rights conventions. At the end of the workshop, a draft charter was developed to outline the key principles that the media is to abide by while tackling issues affecting children.
In his statement, Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, the project manager of “Access to Justice”, asserted that the charter seeks to provide a set of rights-based principles for professional media coverage of child issues. Such principles are grounded in the child law of Egypt and the international conventions on child rights.
By the end of the workshop, a 6-month action plan was developed, including child rights topics that are to be discussed in the media.
The child rights in media charter included the following principles and commitments:
- Adhere to accuracy, transparency and credibility principles when tackling child protection issues
- Promote collaboration between civil society organizations and media when tackling child issues
- Ensure formulating child-friendly media messages that respond to child needs (emotional, intellectual, among others)
- Avoid coverage that seek to provoke public opinion and adhere to authentic and accurate coverage
- Adhere to the principle of confidentiality when tackling sensitive issues (sexual abuse – drug addiction)
- Emphasis the importance of having unified and standardized policy when tackling issues affecting children.
- Adopt child friendly language when interviewing children and abandoning the attitude that reinforce superiority.
- Adhere to non-discrimination principle
- Shed light on positive examples when tackling issues affecting children
- Generate official and community interest in child-specific issues
- Depend on reliable sources of information
- Constant follow up on issues and their solutions
- Avoid political or religious exploitation
- Adhere to the principle that suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty
- Remain up to date with the regional and local child protection laws and conventions
- Remain updated on the locations of child protection committees around the country
- Create media hotline and promote it across different media outlets
- Engage children in voicing out issues affecting them
- Ensure Media coverage adheres to child’s best interest while adopting non-discriminatory practice and respecting the right to privacy in all forms of media (audio, visual and online) and present issues from different angles and proposed solution
- Media professional has the right to get information on issues affecting children from reliable resources
- Media coverage should never directly or indirectly contribute to passing prejudgments on issues affecting children or lead to any form of abuse or deformation
- The National Authority for media, the Supreme Media Council and media syndicates have the right to take whatever action deemed appropriate when any media breach happens or whenever and suspicion of exploiting childhood issues for coverage or personal purpose