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Foreign media’s Wild Boar interviews come under fire

BANGKOK: Thai officials have slammed international news agencies’ exclusive interviews with the boys rescued from Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, saying the media coverage risks violating child protection laws.

Saturday 21 July 2018, 09:05AM

Thai authorities are worried about the psychological impact interviews with foreign media outlets might have on the 12 young football players and their coach recently rescued from a flooded cave. Photo: Screengrab from ABC News via Bangkok Post

Thai authorities are worried about the psychological impact interviews with foreign media outlets might have on the 12 young football players and their coach recently rescued from a flooded cave. Photo: Screengrab from ABC News via Bangkok Post

Deputy permanent secretary for justice Tawatchai Thaikyo yesterday (July 20) warned that the foreign media’s questions may have a negative impact on the boys’ recoveries and lead them to suffer from post-traumatic stress.

He was responding to reports that some international news agencies have already conducted interviews with the boys since they returned home.

ABC News was among agencies which reportedly secured exclusive interviews with some of the members of the Wild Boars football team.

“The interviews should not have been done at all. Some questions can trigger fear in the boys, especially questions about the use of medication during their extraction from the cave. Such questions only serve to remind them of the trauma they went through and may lead to further psychological issues in the future,” Mr Tawatchai said.

Mr Tawatchai faulted the international news agencies for ignoring a request by Thai authorities for their cooperation in respecting the privacy of the boys and their families.

However, he praised Thai media organisations for cooperating.

“Although the foreign agencies claim that they had permission from the boys’ parents, it is not right because Thai and foreign journalists were given clear guidelines for their coverage. The parents of the boys might not be prepared to cope with what’s to come,” Mr Tawatchai said.

He urged the agencies to follow the same guidelines used when minors are questioned in court.

There, children’s testimonies are overseen by social workers or psychiatrists, Mr Tawatchai said.

“We thought that foreign media organisations understood conventions on children’s rights and procedures to protect the young but their standards have turned out to be lower than expected. It seems they lack common sense,” he said.

Twelve local football players aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach from the Moo Paa (Wild Boars) Academy football team entered Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district on June 23 and were trapped inside by rising floodwater.

An international rescue operation located them after 10 days and brought them out in batches over a three-day period from July 8-10. The incident made international headlines as the cave extraction was considered to be the toughest of its kind and drew help from local and international rescuers and supporters.

Boonruang Triruangworawat, director-general of the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Mental Health, said interviews with the boys could affect their mental health in the long term.

Interviews should be put off for at least two months as the boys are still under observation, he advised.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam also warned that the foreign media’s interviews with the boys risk violating laws protecting children’s rights.

The government had instructed officials from the Social Development and Human Security to look after the boys, Mr Wissanu said.

However, Anira Thinon, a social development and human security official in Chiang Rai, said that foreign reporters had not obtained permission from officials and had conducted their interviews when the officials assigned to look after the boys were absent.

“The media will be held responsible under the children protection law which regulates media coverage and the foreign media is no exception,” she said.

Thepchai Yong, president of the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, posting on Facebook, criticised foreign media intrusion on the boys’ privacy.

“While you are concerned that Thai media will disturb the Wild Boars, the foreign reporters have turned up in droves at their houses,” Mr Thepchai wrote

“They include ABC News, CBS and several others. They proudly declared that they had exclusive interviews with the children while the Thai media have been told to stay away,” he added.

Read original story here.



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Jor12 | 26 July 2018 - 08:36:48

Child prtoection laws, which are similar to laws anywhere in the world have been broken by irresponsible media. They are aware of their responsibility under treaties to which Thailand is a signatory. They are there for purpose which is the care and protection of vulnerable people, who are not adults and incapable of making adult decisions which is recognised in law as is pointed out in the article

CaptainJack | 21 July 2018 - 15:56:58

It's interesting to see a "psychologist" touting the same societal hang-ups we see here every day. Contrary to Thai tradition one does not combat traumatic stress by ignoring. It's healthy to talk about these things. The wisdom of doing so on TV can of course be questioned. 

Rorri_2 | 21 July 2018 - 15:47:05

"These foreign journalists should be reprimanded" rubbish, no laws have been broken, Thai authorities are complaining because international media do not bow to Thai BS... the parents are the sole authority over the kids... it didn't stop Thai media parading these kids in front of the world, only any media, TV, newspaper, internet etc.

Kurt | 21 July 2018 - 15:10:39

Conventions on Children Rights?
Thailand never signed any convention of human rights.
And,..about children rights, how about all these children in Thailand working in massage/sex industry, sometimes very close to police stations?
What make thai authorities sudden so noisy about children rights?
This is no government business, it is all up to the families and the boys. 

Christy Sweet | 21 July 2018 - 13:27:17

It is entirely up to parents of each child  whom they speak to.  Thai authorities (should) have no rights whatsoever in the matter.  

Robin Lee | 21 July 2018 - 12:00:48

These foreign journalists should be reprimanded and not allowed to get away with such \"irresponsible\"act just to get their interviews. Who do they think they are? This is Thailand and they should respect the request of the Thai Government Agencies. I am flabbergasted with their irresponsible behavior.  

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