Montenegro must step up efforts to prevent sale and sexual exploitation of vulnerable children – UN expert

OHCHR

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.

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