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WMSU-CPD, KKI, PACT push for trafficked children’s access to justice


In commemoration of December 12: International Day Against Trafficking, Philippines Against Child Trafficking – Zamboanga City Chapter, Western Mindanao State University – Center for Peace and Development (WMSU-CPD) and Katilingban Para sa Kalambuan, Inc.(KKI) reiterate the advocacy for the protection of trafficked children’s legal rights and access to justice.

Since the enactment of the Republic Act 9208: Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law of 2003 (R.A. 9208), the November 2011 data of WMSU-CPD and KKI shows that 61 convictions of human trafficking cases have been made and 25 of these involved children victims.

With 7,000 more child trafficking cases recorded by PACT since its inception, PACT believes that several more trafficked children are struggling to get access to justice. However, barriers still exist in the implementation of protection mechanisms for their legal rights.

In the study called Stories from the Field: A Glimpse on Trafficked Children’s Access to Justice in Thailand, Cambodia, and Philippines, the research participants shared their knowledge and experiences in their pursuit of justice for the child trafficking victims. They identified the gaps in the current implementation of the laws and provided recommendations.

Based on the research results, PACT and its partner organizations came up with ten points for policy advocacy:

1. Treat trafficked children as victims not as offenders. Law enforcers, investigators, and media should employ child-friendly treatment during rescue operations and interviews. As victims of human rights violation, trafficked children must not be confined in detention centers. They must be put in a place where they will feel safe and secured.

2. Trafficked children have the right to programs and services for their recovery and reintegration. Assist them through health care and social services such as psychosocial, educational, and livelihood assistance.

3. Protect children’s right to seek and access legal remedies. Provide legal support and financial assistance to trafficked children and their families. Inform them and help them gain access to the victim compensation and witness protection programs.

4. Trafficked children need special protection measures in courts. Establish additional family courts and implement the provisions on the Rules on Examination of a Child Witness, including the use of live link, in all court hearing of child trafficking cases to prevent further trauma or revictimization.

5. Protect the children’s right to confidentiality, right to information, and right to their own views at all stages of the legal process.

6. Strengthen the capacity of social service providers to help them fulfill their roles at all stages of the legal process. Conduct specialized trainings for law enforcers, investigators, social workers, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges. Develop national guidelines on the different stages of the legal process. Extend protection programs to the social service providers whose lives are put at risk while assisting the trafficked victims.

7. Strengthen the collaboration between stakeholders to improve the services and assistance provided to the trafficking victims. Improve the referral system of victims, cases, and information. Efficiently utilize the Philippine Anti-Trafficking in Persons Database. Strengthen the coordination between law enforcers, social workers, prosecutors, lawyers, IACAT task forces, and NGOs.

8. Penalize the perpetrators of child trafficking through appropriate legal proceedings and penalties. Confiscate and forfeit their proceeds and instruments derived from trafficking of children.

9. End corruption and impunity at all levels of the government.

10. Comply with the obligation to implement the international, regional, and national human rights standards stipulated in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ASEAN Guidelines for the Protection of the Rights of Trafficked Children, and the Philippine Guidelines for the Protection of the Rights of Trafficked Children.

The research was conducted by Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs) and its partner organizations including PACT. Government and NGO social workers, house parents, psychologists, law enforcers, investigators, lawyers, prosecutors, government officials or officers, parents and relatives of child victims, and child trafficking survivors from Thailand, Cambodia, and Philippines participated in this study.

For more information on the aforementioned research study and on the status of anti-child trafficking advocacy in Zamboanga City, please contact Dr. Marcelina G. Carpizo, Director, WMSU-CPD with telephone number 993-0949; or Ms. Elsa Manabat, Executive Director, KKI with contact number 992-5297. (Press Release by WMSU-CPD, KKI)




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