Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 19, 2015 (SKNIS): As the Caribbean region moves towards its quest to protect children, media practicioners representing 11 countries and territories stretching from Bahamas in the north to Suriname in the south, are currently in Antigua participating in a training workshop on responsible coverage of children’s and youth issues, which will run from November 18-20.
Sonia Gill, Secretary General of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), stated that before the media can report on any issue it is important for media workers to understand their role.
“I want us to understand ourselves as more than just giving visibility to others concerned,” said Ms. Gill, while noting that the media itself is a part of civil society.
Reflecting on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), Ms Gill pointed out that children have the right to reliable information from the mass media and said the television, radio and newspapers should provide material that children can understand, as opposed to promoting information that could harm children.
Lyndel Archibald of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, spoke solely to the Juvenile Justice Reform Programme, as it plays an integral role in the workshop.
“The OECS Juvenille Justice Reform Programme is specific to children in conflict with the law,” she said. “We have been working across the Member States in assisting them in developing their programmes and improving the facilities that house children in conflict, in developing policy, as well as creating awareness within the Member States as to how we deal with children in conflict with the law.”
Wesley Gibbings, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, said that there is “sudden drop off” beyond the rights of a child in the Caribbean.
“The rights of the child and proper attention to children and their development is one of the only ways of assuming that we do not go off beyond this point,” he said. “We have been hardpressed so many times to explain why we should be involved actively in issues such as climate change, food production, general human rights and most specifically the rights of the child. I think it is because we know in our hearts that they are sudden drop offs.”
Muriel Mafico, Deputy Representative for UNICEF-Eastern Caribbean, said that the media plays a pivatol role in development and pointed out that the media is the eyes, and ears and the voice of the public, and therefore drawing attention to human rights. She stressed that through the work of the media, government and civil society organizations can be encouraged to effect change that will improve the quality of people’s lives.
The workshop is sponsored by the OECS Commission-United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-Eastern Caribbean Area Office and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Suriname. It was implemented by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) partnering with the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM).