UN special rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children to visit PH
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will have the chance to present its policies to address child trafficking and abuse before a United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur who is set to visit the country by end of November.
According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, will be in the country from November 28 to December 8 upon the invitation of the Philippine government.
“The Commission is hopeful that the visit will help enhance the capacity of government agencies and actors to protect children from all forms of abuse, particularly those involving the use of information and communication technology, which have become rampant in recent years,” CHR said in a statement Wednesday.
“It will also be an opportunity for the government to showcase the measures and mechanisms it has implemented to uphold and protect the rights of child victims of sale and sexual exploitation. It is also expected that the Philippines will learn more about surrogacy, illegal adoption, and online child sexual exploitation, which are the UNSR’s areas of interest,” it added.
The CHR said the UN Special Rapporteur is allowed to assess the country’s implementation of its programs to fighting child exploitation, pornography, and other sexual abuse against minors, and identify new and emerging causes of the problem.
It also noted the significance of Singhateh’s visit as it shows the Philippine government’s willingness to have international observers monitor the rights situation in the country.
“CHR sees this development as a demonstration of the government’s openness and resolve to address the urgent situation of vulnerable children in the Philippines. It is also notable that Republic Act No. 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law has lapsed into law on 30 July 2022,” the CHR said.
“The upcoming engagement with the UNSR is an opportune time to ensure that learnings and recommendations will be adopted in drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said law. At the same time, we urge for the expeditious completion of the IRR to immediately enforce the law and reduce the risk for children,” it added.
The Philippines has been doing well in the fight against human trafficking, as the International Justice Mission (IJM) Global Hub Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children said that a 2022 report from the United States highlighted various solutions implemented by the Philippine government to curb trafficking.
Due to these steps, the Philippines was able to maintain its Tier 1 ranking.
But the country still needs to improve on certain areas, notably, its fight against child pornography, as the Philippines has been tagged as top source of child porn materials in the past years — and the pandemic even made it worse.
According to local authorities, including Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., lockdowns due to COVID-19 produced a spike in child exploitation incidents, as children were forced to stay at home with their abusers or people producing pornographic materials online.
The CHR expressed hopes that exchanges between the government and the UN Special Rapporteur will lead to policy-making geared toward preventing child exploitation.
“As we anticipate a productive engagement between the government and the UNSR, we also look forward to its meaningful translation into concrete mechanisms and policies that would improve the plight of vulnerable children and curb all forms of abuses suffered by them,” it said.