This year has seen devastation by a pandemic affecting an entire generation, said Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children as she presented her first report to the UN General Assembly. Not only has the pandemic exacerbated the existing plight of the most vulnerable children, it has severely jeopardised the many hard-won achievements, said the expert, who took over the mandate in May 2020.
“It is against the backdrop of these challenging realities and as we mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the mandate, that I assume my responsibilities with a sombre reflection on how to fulfil my mandate – one that stands out as uniquely important in that it is one of the few that ensure the promotion and protection of children from the most pernicious human rights abuses,” Singhateh told the General Assembly in New York.
“With the emergence of new forms and manifestation of sexual exploitation of children through communication technologies, the need to tackle online child sexual exploitation and abuse cannot be over-emphasised,” said the expert.
“Access to justice, reparations and rehabilitation of child victims of sale, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation is an important aspect in addressing this scourge. I will work towards strengthening the role of my mandate by advocating for access to child-friendly justice systems, reparations and rehabilitation for child survivors, as well as addressing the underlying causes that prevent accountability and perpetuate impunity,” she said.
“Above all, I will consult children on the realities of their lives as we confront the gravity of the continued practice of sale and sexual exploitation of children worldwide,” added the expert.
“Today more than ever, we need to have a common vision to confront this heinous crime. We should accelerate our commitments under the 2030 Agenda towards a sustainable and resilient recovery”, Singhateh concluded.