“If in doubt ask yourself, is this in the best interest of a child?”
This was emphasized by Atty. Euvic Ferrer of the Commission on Human Rights during a media orientation on the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, September 11 at LJ Mega Convention Center, Butuan City.
Organized by the Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee (RJJWC) headed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Caraga, the said activity aimed to reorient the media and the people on Republic Act 9344 as amended by 10630 which strengthens the juvenile justice system in the Philippines that protects the rights of children in conflict with the law (CICL).
“Although criminal cases committed by these children are considered legal issues, the fact that these children need restorative justice makes it more a concern on child welfare,” Ferrer discussed.
He also added that the media could be a great contributor both in protecting these children and making sure that they do not undergo “unfair trial by publicity.”
“Aside from protecting the confidentiality and privacy of these children in media reports, it is also the duty of the media to make sure that all media stories are done in the best benefit of a child,” he emphasized.
Discussed on the orientation are the roles of media in the promotion of child rights, and delinquency prevention by relaying consistent messages through a balanced approach and that media practitioners, as partners in ensuring juvenile justice and welfare, shall have the duty to maintain the highest critical and professional standards in their reports covering cases of CICLs.
“In all publicity concerning children, the best interest of the child should be the primordial and paramount concern” Ferrer said, adding that “any undue, inappropriate and sensationalized publicity of any case involving a CICL is a violation of the child’s rights.”
DSWD-Caraga OIC Regional Director Mita Chuchi Gupana-Lim, who also chairs RJJWC, said that CICLs have rights that “we should all help protect.”
“This is an interagency concern because all of us, especially the media, have roles to play in ensuring that these children still enjoy their rights,” Lim added.
According to RA 10630, CICLs have the following rights: enjoy presumption of minority; freedom from torture, cruel inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment; not to be imposed capital punishment, life imprisonment, without possibility of release; freedom from any unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of liberty; not to be detained in a jail pending trial or hearing; and right to privacy, among others.
The orientation, which also tackled the differences of children-at-risk and CICL, child custody, intervention programs for CICL and the system of diversion, was attended by media persons from Butuan City and Tandag City, police officers from Agusan del Norte and select parents and special education teachers. ###(Mike Ariel P. Plaza/Social Marketing Unit/DSWD Field Office Caraga)