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Annual report 2020



children released from detention in Togo and the Philippines


extrajudicial killings of children in the Philippines

The Covid-19 pandemic that marked the year 2020 had a considerable impact on children deprived of liberty. Minors detained in overcrowded places are at higher risk of contamination and suffer from reduced contact with their families. In many countries, non-governmental organisations or other monitoring mechanisms were denied access to prisons since the start of the pandemic, leaving children without any external contact or independent monitoring of their situation. This led to increased violations of their rights, including torture and ill-treatment.

In some countries, such as the Philippines, children were subjected to torture and ill-treatment for alleged violations of restrictions related to the pandemic. As punishment, some of them were kept in a dog cage or a coffin. The OMCT and its partner in the Philippines firmly denounced this situation.

The OMCT and its partners have also worked with authorities worldwide to liberate some children from prison. In June 2020, OMCT’s Network member in Togo, CACIT, ensured the release of 17 minors from a children detention center. Similarly, 30 children were released in the Philippines, thanks to the advocacy of OMCT’s partner Children's Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRDC).

Serious violations of children’s rights go beyond the pandemic. In 2020, the OMCT published a report on 122 children killed by law enforcement officers in the Philippines since the start of the government’s “war on drugs”, in 2016. The report documents how these children were directly targeted by the authorities, killed at gunpoint or tortured to death in prison where they had been sent on trumped-up charges of drug offences.

Paul – Killed in a police operation in the Philippines

In the evening of July 25, 2017, Paul*, 16, was asleep at home, next to his pregnant girlfriend. Two men entered the house, grabbed Paul, and started hitting him. The parents, asleep on the first floor, heard Paul scream, beg for his life, and then three gunshots. Paul’s girlfriend saw the men shoot Paul in the mouth, head, and body. A few minutes before the crime, a witness had seen the two men change from their police uniforms to civilian clothes.

A month later, Paul’s parents obtained a police report stating that the killing was “perpetrated by unidentified men”. For the authorities, the case was closed. Paul’s parents did not pursue the judicial process, for fear of retaliation.

*Not his real name

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