UNICEF statement on the impact of the drug war on children’s rights in the Philippines

 

UNICEF statement on the impact of the drug war on children’s rights in the Philippines

[NAME CHANGED], On 12 March 2016, a group of children play ing-round-the-rosy?outside their home at a shelter in the Philippines. Three of the children and their older sister, Rosalyn (not pictured) are among 7 siblings who were rescued during a cyber crime police raid police 6 years ago when their parents were caught forcing the two oldest girls to participate in live streaming of child sexual abuse in their home. Despite her young age, Rosalyn, now 17, has assumed the role of mother to her younger siblings at the shelter.

Rosalyn remembers her childhood fondly until her parents lost their jobs at a local factory. Uneducated, they were unable to find work and the family soon sank into extreme poverty. A neighbour offered Rosalyn the opportunity to earn money by participating in live streaming of child sexual abuse. She never received money directly but noticed that her family no longer went hungry. Her younger sister began to perform online as well, and the family economic condition improved to the point that their parents were able to purchase their own computer system. The parents, under the direction of the neighbour, continued to force their two older daughters to participate in live streaming of child sexual abusein front of a webcam in their home. The parents are now in prison and the case is in court, pending a decision at the end of April. The youngest children do not remember their parents and Rosalyn feels conflicted and responsible for the destruction of her family. It took her a long time to understand that what had happened to her was buse?since the exploitation of children through the live streaming of sexual acts before a webcam has been normalized in their community. The children were placed in a shelter away from their community, where they receive counselling and support. Rosalyn and her older brother are now going to university and the younger children attend school. Rosalyn is an advocate for online safety, and speaks to fello

© UNICEF/UN014960/Estey

On 12 March 2016, a group of children play ‘ring-round-the-rosy’ outside their home at a shelter in the Philippines.

Statement attributable to Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Representative, Philippines.

MANILA/HONG KONG, 22 August 2017 – UNICEF Philippines is deeply concerned about the impact of the war on drugs on Filipino children.

The death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during the drug raid in Caloocan City and the circumstances of his untimely death in relation to the State’s war on drugs are deeply disturbing.

UNICEF offers its condolences to Kian’s family. We share their grief and the grief of all the families of children who have been killed, as well as of children who have lost parents, caregivers and relatives, during anti-drug operations.

A fair and transparent investigation into Kian’s death should be undertaken as a matter of urgency. This investigation must be undertaken in a manner that seeks to guarantee the best interests of children and promote respect for their rights. Those who are responsible for killings and deliberate violence against children must be held accountable.

The best interests of children must be the guiding principle in every action by Government officials. Actions, no matter the motivation, that increase the risks children face or violate their rights are not in accordance with the responsibilities of signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Philippines, as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect and fulfil the human rights of every child. Every child’s right to life, to develop to her or his full potential, to be heard, and to be protected from all forms of violence are universal and inalienable. There are no exceptions. These rights apply without qualification.

UNICEF Philippines joins the many organizations and individuals coming together to demand action to prevent any further loss of children’s lives. There is no higher value for a society than to protect its own children and youth.