UN rapporteur suggests PH data center, court for child abuse cases
A United Nations special rapporteur currently in the country for a two-week visit noted the lack of reporting, surveillance and data that could be used to better prosecute cases of online child abuse in the country.
Mama Fatima Singhateh, the UN rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, suggested that concerned Philippine agencies set up a centralized database that would accurately capture the scale of the crimes involving the exploitation of minors, in order to establish proper interventions.
Singhateh said the officials she had met during her trip had been “receptive” to her findings and recommendations.
“It’s been very constructive and open. I have been allowed to visit wherever I wanted to visit and talk to whomever I wanted to speak to,” she told reporters on Thursday as she shared her preliminary findings about child abuse cases in the country.
Singhateh said she had also suggested the creation of a court exclusively for child abuse cases, instead of having them lumped together with cases handled by family courts.
Child sexual abuse cases, she said, “should be decided expeditiously. Delays cause trauma on victims because they get to relive their ordeal over and over again until the case is resolved.”
She also recommended having a child protection unit within the court system, one that could monitor child marriages, for example. “Data should show how many children were rescued from child marriages, how many incidents reported, prosecuted, the level of intervention [made] and how well the law was implemented,” she added.
She also noted instances of birth certificates being falsified and the lack of reproductive health education in the country, which she counted among the factors that perpetuate child abuse.
A more in-depth report on her visit to the Philippines is expected to be shared with the UN Human Rights Council in March 2023.
Singhateh was the first UN rapporteur to visit the country under the Marcos administration.
Her experience so far has drawn comparisons with that of Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, whom then President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to “slap” if she were to pursue the UN investigation of his antidrug campaign during her visit in 2017.