New campaign: Stop the press revealing identities of Calais children

24 October 2016

UK newspapers are placing refugee children at risk ECPAT UK has launched a campaign calling on the press to stop risking children’s security and inciting discrimination by publishing photographs and personal details about unaccompanied young people arriving in the UK from Calais.

In a story published in The Guardian on Friday, ECPAT UK, along with more than 50 charities in the Refugee Children’s Consortium, said: “The incendiary language used to describe these individual young people, as well as deliberate questioning of their true ages without due care to their safety or lawful processes, has the very real potential to expose these children to abuse, racism and hate crimes whilst in the UK.”

Nearly 4,000 ECPAT UK supporters have supported the call to action within just 48 hours of publication of the petition, but the charity has said there is much more work to do to protect vulnerable refugee children. Supporters are urged to CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

Publication of photos and personal details can risk the security of unaccompanied young people, who are known to be at a high risk of human trafficking and may be exposed to hate crime.

The language used by The Sun, the Daily Star, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express to describe these young people arriving from the 'jungle' camp in Calais is incendiary and inhumane. The deliberate questioning of age, without due care to safety or lawful processes, has the very real potential to expose individuals to abuse, racism and hatred whilst in the UK.

International law makes it clear that anyone under the age of 18 is a child. Unaccompanied children frequently have no documents to prove their age. Some don’t even know their own chronological age. Others have had their identities faked by human traffickers. There is a duty on the UK to give those in such situations the ‘benefit of the doubt’ where there is reason to believe they may be a child.

The current approach of 'trial by media' undermines these young people's right to fair and impartial assessments of their individual circumstances. It ignores well-established, legal processes that are designed to protect those most in need and undermines the validity of the laws to protect children and refugees.

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