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Latino Daily News

Sunday September 2, 2012

UN: Guatemalan Children Still Facing Sexual Exploitation, Forced Labor

UN: Guatemalan Children Still Facing Sexual Exploitation, Forced Labor

Photo: UN Rapporteur Najay Maalla M’jid

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

In spite of protection measures by the Guatemalan Government, many children are still victims of sexual exploitation and forced labor, a United Nations independent expert warned today.

Special Rapporteur on child trafficking, prostitution and child pornography, Najay Maalla M’jid underlined that it is still difficult to determine the extent of the trafficking and exploitation of children due to the lack of systematic denunciations, as people fear stigmatization and retaliation.

She also noted a lack of access to mechanisms that guarantee rapid protection and security for victims outside the capital, Guatemala City, pointing out that there is a transnational dimension to the issue which translates into using minors for sexual tourism, online pornography and organized crime.

The Special Rapporteur recognized that there have been numerous legal reforms and measures adopted by various actors at a central and local level.

Ms. Maalla M’jid also emphasized that slow judicial investigations and the current impunity enjoyed by many perpetrators impede the rapid and efficient protection of victims and witnesses, and called on the Government to adopt a strategy with a global and integrated focus to guarantee the protection of children who have been victims or are at risk of abuse.

During her visit to the country, Ms. Maalla M’jid met with Government officials, as well as with representatives from civil society and the private sector. She also talked to young teenagers who have been victims of violence and abuse when she visited child protection centres in the country.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.