Advisory to Chiefs of Staff, Picture Editors and News Directors
CANBERRA - 05th August 2011.The proposed transfer of asylum seekers from Australia to Malaysia is clearly a matter of considerable public interest in both countries.
Normal considerations of respect for privacy should apply to asylum seekers as they would for anyone else in the community.
If the people concerned are fleeing persecution, then publication of their identities could jeopardise their safety or that of relatives and associates at home.
UNHCR asks the media to obtain the permission of individuals before identifying them and, even if permission is given, to consider their vulnerable situation and the possible consequences.
The situation for children calls for special sensitivity and restraint. In principle, children should not be photographed unless a parent or guardian is present and has expressly granted permission.
UNHCR and Government agencies associated with the management of asylum claims have strict protocols on the confidentiality of individual cases. These protocols relate to the rights to privacy, the safety of individuals and their families and the integrity of the assessment processes in both Australia and Malaysia.
In this context, UNHCR calls on all media to exercise sensitivity and restraint in revealing the identity of asylum seekers through photographs, footage or by name.