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UN special rapporteur to meet Remulla on sexual abuse of kids

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 05/12/2022 Franco Jose C. BaroƱa
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR © Provided by The Manila Times Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

THE United Nations special rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, will meet with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Thursday to discuss a "macro perspective" of the problem of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the country.

Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano, Department of Justice spokesman, said Mama Fatima Singhateh will meet Remulla on December 8. She is expected to hold a briefing prior to her departure on December 9.

"The purpose of the meeting is for Secretary Remulla to express his gratitude to the UN representative for visiting the Philippines and to answer any questions she may still have after her visit to the different local governments around the country," Clavano said in a statement.

"Furthermore, Secretary Remulla wishes to give Ms. Singhateh a more macro perspective of the Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children situation. He likewise wishes to describe the role of the National Government in quelling such criminal behavior," he added.

Singhateh arrived in the Philippines on November 28, upon the invitation of the government. She is here to assess the situation and the progress made in combating and preventing the sale and sexual exploitations of children in the light of international human rights norms and standards.

Prior to her appointment as special rapporteur in 2020, Singhateh was a magistrate of the Gambian high court from 2009 to 2013 and was twice named justice minister in 2013 and then again in 2015.

Special rapporteurs are part of special procedure mechanisms developed by the UN Human Rights Council to conduct fact-finding and monitoring missions among members of the council. They need an invitation from the government for them to make official visits.

The UN high commission said in a statement prior to her arrival that Singhateh was tasked to assess the situation and the progress made in combating and preventing the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

The Philippines has emerged as the center for the production of child sex abuse materials in the world, with 80 percent of Filipino children vulnerable to online sexual abuse. Some instances of abuse were facilitated even by their own parents, according to a national study on online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The study was conducted in 2016 by researchers from the De La Salle University for the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Unicef, another UN body.

Two other UN special rapporteurs are expected to visit the Philippines early next year.

Also scheduled to visit Manila is special rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion Irene Khan.

Khan, who is a former secretary general of Amnesty International, earlier condemned the decision of the Court of Appeals to uphold the cyber libel conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

The Philippine government also invited UN Special Rapporteur on extra-summary or arbitrary executions Morris Tidball-Binz to visit the country.

Tidball-Binz is a medical doctor from Chile who specializes in forensic science, human rights and humanitarian action.

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