UNICEF accused a Rugby World Cup star of violating the rights of children after he tweeted disturbing photos of dead bodies.
Sonny Bill Williams, a Rugby World Cup winner for New Zealand, recently returned from visiting Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Williams tweeted graphic photos of two deformed and bloody bodies Monday and asked his followers to take a moment and think of the “innocent lives lost everyday in war.”
There is no information on the origin of the images or on where they were taken.
UNICEF brought Williams on the trip as a guest to test a potential future partnership. He is not an ambassador and there is no contract between them, the Guardian reports.
The UN’s children’s agency objected to Williams’s use of the images on social media.
“We see it as a fundamental infringement of those children’s rights,” UNICEF spokesman Patrick Rose told the New Zealand Herald. “But at the same time, we don’t have the capacity to censor or edit private citizens’ showing what they find on their individual explorations online.”
Rose later told the Guardian that neither the organization or Williams took the photos. He also said Williams didn’t see that on his trip to Lebanon.
Rose said it’s obvious Williams was moved by his trip to Lebanon, but it’s better to “provide a positive framework for people to respond” instead of posting “disturbing” photos.
A majority of Williams’ followers seemed to have a negative reaction to the photos, writing that he should have at least posted a warning.
“I believe this happened. Did not need to see mangled corpses of kids with no warning,” one user wrote.
“Please use trigger warnings by putting “TW: dead children” in the tweet next time,” another user replied.
But Williams’s teammate, Liam Messam, showed his support and tweeted: “Good work, my brother.”
UNICEF tried to contact Williams about the photos but hasn’t been able to speak with him.