Friday, May 14, 2010

UPDATED: Abuse of a Dutch boy's privacy

The nine-year-old boy who survived Wednesday's air crash in Tripoli is to be flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday, Ed Kronenburg, who is in charge of the Dutch crash team in Libya said on Friday.


In the meantime, the Libyan authorities have taken steps to improve security around the boy to ensure his privacy.

The Telegraaf newspaper caused disbelief on Friday morning by publishing a short phone conversation made with the boy via a doctor's mobile phone. Deputy prime minister André Rouvoet called the paper 'shameless'.

In a statement, the newspaper stressed the reporter had said nothing about the accident or the fact the boy's parents were killed.
The boy's relatives are en route to Tripoli, according to (Dutch) Volkskrant.


That Telegraaf obtained the phone number of the boy's room and was allowed to interview him is appalling enough. But other papers are also showing photos of the boy in his Tripoli hospital room.

He is featured in the lead photo of this series in Parool. He's already got his own website! (In Dutch media, the full names of alleged criminals are never released, but his full name was given.)

Why did hospital staff allow this breach of privacy? (In the USA there are patient privacy policies in place, e.g. hospitals are prohibited to release names of patients who are members of my parish to the clergy.) Why did the Dutch embassy officials allow this violation of a vulnerable child, a minor? (Were these photos taken before or after his relatives arrived in Tripoli? Were they aware of the interview, did they give permission?)

I see now in today's Parool that the Foreign Affairs ministry has stated the telephone interview was "evil."

Telegraaf has issued a statement that the paper never intended to "abuse the patient."


  1. Swedish media have traditionally been very restictive giving names. Until the very last few days, that is. There was a tripple murder in Härnösand and the first thing that happened was the the suspected (and likely) culprit got not only his full name in the press, but also in some of them, his forename, in an effort to be familier... Distasteful!

  2. Yes, distasteful indeed. In Dutch media, alleged criminals are always listed by first name and the first letter of the surname (e.g. Karst T, the attacker from Queen's Day 2009).


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