The “Young Reporters for Human Rights” project was launched by the Instituto Guatemalteco de Educación Radiofónica (Guatemala Radio Education Institute – IGER) in October 2013. IGER encouraged various organisations with youth work experience to meet and explore ways of working together. This led to cooperation with local partners such as the Proyect o Educativo Laboral Puente Belice (Project for Education and Labour Puente Belice – PELPB) and the Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala – ODHAG).
As a starting point, PELPB identified 30 teenagers – 18 boys and 12 girls – from Guatemala City’s zones 6, 16 and 18 who were interested in a career in the media, had social and leadership skills and were willing to spend some of their free time working with the project. These young people formed the Young Reporters team.
The team was taught about human rights issues, basic journalism, and website content management at workshops run by DW Akademie, with regular additional training from Circo del Rock, a local journalists’ organisation. Additionally, ODHAG ran sessions on human rights.
The website was designed and developed by a programmer working with the young people and local partners. Indeed, much of the project focused on security issues, such as ways to protect the identity and rights of young people on the Internet and in the media.
The website was launched at a public event in September 2014, which was attended by Guatemala’s Deputy Minister of Culture, the German Ambassador and the Head of GIZ’s Guatemala office. The event was attended by 130 people, including young people and representatives of public bodies and international development agencies.
The website is a dedicated online space providing young people with information on issues that interest them. The mobile editorial team is based at the IGER or PELPB or at local events that the team thinks will appeal to the website’s users. From its mobile office, the editorial team produces and publishes four articles and news items a week, focusing on human rights issues in the young people’s neighbourhoods and on skills building.
Thanks to the project, young people are exercising their right to freedom of expression and accessing information to a much greater extent. Teenagers are now more aware of human rights issues and are using online and other media to express their opinions. They are also more confident in contacting the authorities for support. For example, one young woman involved in the project complained to the Child and Youth Officer at the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) about telephone harassment. And a teenager whose young cousin was being detained by the police informed the Human Rights Department at the National Police (PNC) as he had received no information about the cousin’s whereabouts. The PNC explained that he could lodge a complaint with the PDH. The project coordinator provided information and advice for the young people themselves and their parents.
It is striking that participants now express themselves much more assertively. For example, they no longer assume that ‘other people’ should make things happen.
The workshops, skills building activities and support from the project coordinator (a social worker) have had very positive impacts, greatly increasing the young people’s self-confidence and sense of ownership and responsibility.
To promote a culture of political dialogue, meetings were organised for the young people with government agencies and local authorities. Before the meetings, training was provided to build their chairing and interviewing skills. This has made them much more confident, as they are better informed about the institutions and the services provided for young people, and can engage in dialogue with these authorities. Various links have been established with these institutions. The debates and interviews resulting from the meetings are available online and include discussions with Zone 6’s Deputy Mayor Onelia Roca, the PDH Youth Affairs Commissioner, and the Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport Francisco Ardón.
Watch the video to find out more.
Hyperlocal and mobil: Youth Reporters in Guatemala, Spanish with Engl. subtitles, 5′ 13”