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Guidelines aim to protect children used in political campaigns

Children's Commissioner Pauline Miceli.

Children's Commissioner Pauline Miceli.

The Commissioner for Children is holding a consultation on guidelines on the use of children in political communication.

The guidelines are aimed at commissioning agents and parents/guardians for the protection and support of children throughout all stages of a production. The standard requests that prior to parents’ consent an assessment is carried out by recognised caring professionals in order to ensure that the child or minor will not be affected negatively in any way. 

"It is extremely important for people to be aware of the impact that the repetitive exposure of children’s images can have on them," the commissioner, Pauline Miceli said in a statement. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child grants children the right to participate, form an opinion and to form part of a political party.

However,  such active participation by minors is often exploited by commissioning agents and parents/guardians who give their wholehearted consent for such participation. Often, few give consideration to the long term repercussions that might follow a child’s participation in electioneering. Images of minors on billboards and other political material can lead to both bullying and discrimination.

"Often, few give consideration to the long term repercussions that might follow a child’s participation in electioneering. Images of minors on billboards and other political material can lead to both bullying and discrimination," the commissioner said. 

The Office of the Commissioner for Children therefore approached the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority to set up a standard for the participation of minors in political communication, electoral campaigns, referenda and all poll-related matters.

The standard was drawn up by the technical committee which was made up of Agenzija Appoġġ, Alternativa Demokratika, the Broadcasting Authority, the Commissioner for Children, the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability, the University of Malta – Faculty for Social Wellbeing, the Malta Audio Visual Association, the  Labour and Nationalist parties, PBS and the Data Protection Commissioner. 

The guidelines will be open to public consultation up to May 26 from the Standards Metrology Institute, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, Standardisation Directorate, Mizzi House, Triq Nazzjonali, Blata l-Bajda.

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