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Study reveals Online Sexual Exploitation of Children rose in Pandemic; Philippines among the worst

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

A recent study from UNICEF and investigation by the BBC have revealed horrific levels of child abuse in the Philippines fueled by pandemic lockdowns and increasing poverty. The study  revealed that country has become a den for Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) in which adults sometimes even parents force children to perform sexual acts on camera for paying pedophiles on the internet.

A key finding of the study was that certain cultural beliefs contribute to the spread of OSAEC such as ‘if the children are untouched, they are not harmed’ and ‘OSAEC provides easy money and almost everyone does it.’

The BBC’s Laura Bicker visited Preda, an orphanage in the country that specifically helps abused children. Located in the orphanage is a dark padded room outfitted with an on hand therapist. Bicker described what she saw and heard.

“Some of the toughest healing at Preda happens inside a dark room with soft music playing in the background. There are large pads on the walls and floors – the kind gymnasts would use for a soft landing. The only light comes from the open door. About five children are kneeling, each in their own space.  Most of them are facing the wall. The overwhelming sound is the erratic thud of their fists and feet as they pummel the pads. The first raw, anguished cries make your heart stop. And then it starts again, but it’s difficult to keep listening, even from a distance, even for a few minutes. The questions hurled at the cushioned walls – “Why did you do this to me? Why me? What did I do?”

The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Only around 20 per cent of Filipino children are listed by UNICEF as not vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and the pandemic has made it worse. UNICEF says a good grasp of the English Language, availability and ease of access to technology, well-established financial transaction facilities, and ‘absence of perceived conflict between sexual exploitation and significant social norms are some of the reasons the gruesome industry is allowed to thrive and expand.

While instances of online abuse may not be as prevalent in the Caribbean instances of sexual abuse are still high.  A recent study revealed that nearly 15 per cent of children aged 11–12 years and, 35 per cent of young people, 14–15 years old reported having had sexual experiences. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019 those numbers have spiked.

In  Jamaica alone pediatricians said cases abuse rose 70 per cent during the pandemic but cases reported to the police dropped significantly indicating extreme underreporting.

Sexual crimes are some of the most underreported crimes in the world for various reasons including fear, coercion and shame. Protection of children from sexual abuse in all its forms must then become a community effort with adults taking on the responsibility of investigating and speaking up on behalf of children who may not be able to do so on their own.

Caribbean News

Murder Convicted, Malik Cox loses appeal at Privy Council

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – Malik Cox will spend the rest of his life in prison following the Privy Council’s decision to quash his appeal.  Cox was convicted of killing Andreika Stubbs in a tragic 2016 incident outside the Versace Club in Providenciales.  Stubbs was shot in the crossfire between Cox and his intended target while out with her husband celebrating their wedding  anniversary.

Cox was found guilty in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison in the first jury-less case in the country by Judge Shiraz  Aziz. Cox appealed his conviction at the local level but the attempt also failed.

Cox had claimed that the evidence given against him by the man he was shooting at (then 17-year-old) Tyrone Smith and another man initially charged for the murder, Anthony Francis, was not credible or reliable and asked the Privy Council to reconsider the weight placed on their testimony.

Smith, who had been shot in the leg during the incident, gave two statements to the police only mentioning Cox in the second.  Francis on the other hand was found at the scene of the crime after chauffeuring Cox to the club with (what he said was) no idea of what Cox had planned.  Francis, who drove Cox from the scene said he only realized Malik had a gun halfway through the car ride.  Francis then found himself arrested and was further charged with Stubbs’ murder and the shooting of Smith.

Nearly a month later he signed a deal with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions which tossed out his murder charge in exchange for clarification on several aspects of the shooting. Giving his first statement under this agreement he named Mr. Cox as the gunman.

In reference to the appeal against the testimony of the two men, the Privy Council said:

“First, there was no evidence at all put forward by the defence.  Malik Cox gave a “no comment” interview and chose not to give evidence at trial.  Secondly, the evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses at trial was consistent as between one another.  In contrast to some trials, there was no conflict within the prosecution evidence given at trial.  Thirdly, Aziz J decided that both Anthony Francis and Tyrone Smith were credible and reliable witnesses independent of each other.  Even if the Board had decided (contrary to what we have actually decided) that Aziz J’s assessment had been unreasonable in respect of one of those two witnesses, there would still have been the evidence of the other which in itself, alongside the other evidence in the case, would have been sufficient to convict Malik Cox.”

Malik Cox will likely serve his sentence in the TCI.

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Caribbean News

More illegal migrants fifth reported boat

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – The TCI continues to feel the spillover effects of the Haitian crisis as the illegal migration total for the month of January has now surpassed 500. The new tally has already reached as high as 533 following the interception and capture of 115 more illegal migrants trying to enter the country over the weekend.

This makes the fifth attempt intercepted in just four weeks according to information shared by the police. The previous count was 488 not including the over a hundred captured on Christmas Eve in 2022.

Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services told Magnetic Media there had been 95 males and 20 females in the lot.

The immigration issue continues to worsen as the political situation in Haiti passes a breaking point and international military aid fails to materialize. Police in the country demonstrated last week, rebelling against the control of their commanders and the killing of their comrades by heavily armed gang coalitions.

The United Nations last week pleaded for military intervention in the country but to date, none has arrived.

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Bahamas News

74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court

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#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.

Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.

A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.

Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.

The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.

For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.

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