Child Rights Organizations Call For The Protection Of Children At Risk And Children In Conflict With The Law During The COVID-19 Pandemic
MANILA, Philippines – We are concerned about reports of children at
risk (CAR) and children in conflict with the law (CICL) facing cruel, inhumane,
and degrading treatment for violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)
guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sadly, many CICL are still kept in regular
jails and detention facilities, with adult criminals,” said Olga Rodriguez,
Country Director of EDUCO Philippines, a member of the Joining Forces Alliance.
“Detention centers in the country are in
dire conditions with overcrowded cells and poor hygiene facilities where
children might contract COVID-19,” Rodriguez added.”
The Joining Forces Alliance
calls on all local government units to comply with the Joint Memorandum
Circular by Department of Interior and Local Governance (DILG) and the Council
for the Welfare of Children (CWC) dated April 6, 2020 in the context of the
ECQ. It reiterated the protocols on reaching out to children including those in
street situations, in need of special protection, CAR, and CICL.
would like to reiterate the following in the handling of CAR and CICL:
Law enforcers should first reach
out to a parent, guardian, or social worker when children are violating curfew
hours and quarantine measures.
Children should be brought to a barangay
official and released to the custody of parents.
child-offenders advice (payo)or a warning not to repeat their acts.
“We recognize the importance of the task of our law enforcers to
strictly implement the quarantine measures and we value that these are for the
protection of our communities,” said Pilgrim Bliss Gayo, Country Coordinator of
Terre des Hommes – Germany in the Philippines. “However, it is also the task of law enforcement to ensure that
children’s rights are promoted even during the ECQ,” stressed Gayo.
Joining Forces Alliance urges the government to:
Respect the fundamental human
rights, including children’s rights, in the implementation of national and
local action plans to combat COVID-19.
Protect the dignity
and welfare of children, don’t use degrading punishments.
Guarantee that social welfare
services for children are activated and adequately funded.
We call on the DILG to:
Monitor the implementation of the Joint
Memorandum Circular 2020-01.
appropriate penalties to any persons or officials in violation of the above.
Facilitate the immediate release of children who
are under the custody of BJMP and LGU- managed jails, and transfer them to
appropriate youth facilities.
We also appeal to all local governments to:
Ensure the functionality of the Barangay
Council for the Protection of Children.
the implementation of child protection response and referral mechanisms.
cases with the Local Council for the Protection of Children.
all Bahay Pag-Asa centers and other youth care facilities to ensure that they
are safe for children. Hygiene kits, food, and COVID-19 information should be
Personnel of such facilities should receive
psychosocial support. They should also be trained in providing psychosocial
support to children.
We urge the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council and the CWC to:
Provide technical support to staff handling
CAR and CICL cases.
communities on how to report child abuse cases (e.g. Bantay Bata 163).
Monitor existing CICL cases.
Lastly, we urge parents and caregivers to
supervise their kids and to follow curfew hours.
“Violence and discrimination
against children can never be justified for the sake of combating a public
health emergency,” said Rodriguez. “It
is during this trying time that children critically need protection from all
forms of violence or abuse.”