Bulgaria’s child protection agency probes unlawful reporting on ‘radicalised’ teenager
Bulgaria’s State Agency for Child Protection has an initiated an investigation into disclosures by a website of personal details of the Plovdiv teenager said by authorities to have been preparing a terrorist attack.
The agency will investigate whether Bulgaria’s Child Protection Act was broken.
It issued a reminder that coverage of children in the media should be done in compliance with all the requirements of legislation.
On June 10, Plovdiv journalists issued a protest declaration and urged the state’s institutions to react to the unlawful and unethical disclosure of personal information about the teenager.
The issue also was the subject of a declaration by the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria, which said that in breach of all legal rules and norms of ethical journalism, the PIK website had revealed the pupil’s identity, the place where he was studying and details of his family.
A reporter from the agency questioned the boy’s classmates without first seeking the consent of their parents.
The association added that this would not have been possible without information coming from people in state institutions, and called for disclosure and punishment of all involved.
It said that the pupil, reported to have been radicalised, was primarily the victim of a dangerous terrorist network that allegedly recruited him. Serious consequences were prevented only by the timely intervention of the family.
Fortunately, the family had fulfilled its duty to society, but had been subjected to unprecedented harassment by “the pseudo-media and its pseudo-journalists”.
The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria has taken up the matter with the Inspectorate at the Supreme Judicial Council, the Interior Minister, and the head of the State Agency for National Security, calling on them to check for disciplinary offences committed by their employees.
It said that it would lodge an Access to Public Information Act request to ask what the idea of announcing the case at a news conference in Plovdiv had been.
“It is important for the public to have this information, to come to its own conclusions whether the disclosure of the case was a cheap PR move by some institutions which, besides the serious consequences for the pupil and his family, also leads to a compromise of the fight against terrorism and the national security of Bulgaria,” the association said.
“As a result of the disclosure of the case, all attention is directed to one child, whereas the people who have recruited him are allowed to hide their traces and escape from prosecution. And take more serious measures in other similar cases. The lowest link in the chain was announced, and this is certainly not an effective fight against a terrorist network.”
(Photo: Brian Lary/sxc.hu)