Success for UNICEF and partners as anti-child pornography law passed
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has signed into law a bill making child pornography illegal, in a major victory for UNICEF and other child rights advocates. UNICEF has been campaigning on the issue for several years and had specifically called for the law to be passed before next year’s national elections.
The Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 penalizes anyone who produces, distributes or assists in the transmission or promotion of child pornography, including via the Internet. Under the law, children exploited in such material are recognized as victims of violent crime and perpetrators can face up to a P5 million fine or a life sentence.
The law also holds Internet providers and hosts liable for the content provided by their services and provides for an inter-agency council, with representatives from the Government, law enforcement and NGOs, to ensure children's rights are upheld.
Tarlac Rep. Monica Teodoro, one of the principal authors of the bill, said: “Now that we have a stringent law against child pornography, we can efficiently prosecute perpetrators. We used to be a haven for child pornography proliferators and foreign pedophiles, now our country is going to be a safe haven for children.”
Senator Jambi Madrigal, who campaigned for years to have the law passed, added: “I am elated that after years of passionately advocating for its passage, the bill criminalizing acts of child pornography is finally a law. Filipino children now are further protected against abusers and I encourage other countries to follow suit. The protection of our children should be foremost in the agenda of all states.”
About the campaign
In 2007, UNICEF supported a study with the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which confirmed that child pornography syndicates already exist in the Philippines and that law enforcement response is hampered by the lack of a comprehensive law on child pornography that captures the new modes of producing, transmitting and distributing child pornography using the Internet.
In May 2009, UNICEF launched ‘Silence is Acceptance’, a national awareness campaign on child pornography with NGOs, public and private sector organizations. It urged the public to call on their lawmakers to put children first, by passing the Anti Child Pornography Act. A petition was organized, which attracted thousands of signatures, and a huge demonstration was held in Manila.
Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines, said: “Child pornography is child abuse. The use of children and young people in pornographic materials is a grave violation of their rights, whatever their role in the process. The passage of the anti-child pornography bill is a great achievement for efforts to protect children and prevent the problem escalating even further.”