PODGORICA (16 September 2021) – Montenegro must take bold steps to strengthen its child protection system to prevent and respond to the sale and sexual exploitation of children more effectively, a UN human rights expert said today.
Addressing discrimination and ensuring the most marginalised are fully included in society is paramount to eradicate the scourge of sale and sexual exploitation of children, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Mama Fatima Singhateh, said at the end of an
eight-day visit to the country.
"Tackling poverty, social exclusion and segregation of the most marginalised children, including Roma and Egyptian children, as well as migrant children and children with disabilities, is key to preventing them from becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation,” she said.
“I am encouraged by the Government’s commitment to address the sale and sexual exploitation of children. I remain concerned, however, that only a few cases have been reported and even fewer victims identified. The practice of child marriage among the Roma and Egyptian communities continues to be justified on traditional or cultural grounds”, the expert said.
Child-friendly investigations and prosecutions are essential to curbing the culture of silence surrounding child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation and tackling impunity, Singhateh added.
Singhateh urged the Government to set up a system for comprehensive data gathering, which will also inform policy development and preventive strategies.
During her visit, the Special Rapporteur met with representatives of the executive, legislature and judiciary, the Protector for Human Rights and Freedoms, civil society organisations, service and care providers, children and members of the international community. She visited Podgorica, Bijela, Spuz and Niksic.
Singhateh will present her findings and key recommendations in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2022.
Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh (The Gambia) was appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children
by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2020. She is a trained lawyer with almost 20 years of experience. Ms Singhateh has held a number of high-level positions in public service in the Gambia. She holds a master’s degree in International Business Law from the University of Hull and has undergone numerous trainings in child rights programming, arbitration and mediation, and legislative drafting. She has drafted laws, organized and conducted numerous training sessions, delivered presentations at both national and international fora and written articles and reports on issues relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
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