Authorities in Thailand have accused foreign media of behaving irresponsibly by interviewing members of a juvenile football team who were trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks before a miraculous rescue.
“I was saddened that the foreign media, whom we assumed understood children’ rights very well as well as the procedures for protecting children and minors, but their standards have turned out to be unexpectedly substandard,” Tawatchai Thaikyo, the country’s Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice, said in a Facebook post.
He urged the media to use the same guidelines used when interviewing minors as those followed in legal proceedings which, in Thailand, require a psychologist to be present during questioning “to stop opening the wound laid deep inside the hearts of children and minors. They are at the age of fragility and they must be protected.”
Before the member of the Wild Boars team were released from hospital last week, local authorities asked Thai and foreign journalists to refrain from approaching the boys for interviews in order to safeguard their mental health.
Meanwhile, Chiang Rai Province released a statement on Saturday announcing that the Governor, Prachon Prachsakul, had assigned a task force to “discuss measures to protect the Wild Boar’s football team’s child rights, under the nation’s Child Protection Act.”
The move “follows reports by some foreign media, who interviewed the young members of the Wild Boars football team at their homes after they were discharged from the hospital,” the statement said.
It added that any violation of the Child Protection Act “faces a maximum of 60,000 baht ($1,800) fine or up to six months imprisonment, or both.”