OLONGAPO City, May 8, 2015—Believing that justice delayed is justice denied, a Catholic priest and child rights advocate has called on public authorities to speed up the prosecution of known pedophiles, arguing that sexually abused minors need justice to fully recover.
“Children get witness fatigue, despair of getting justice. There are many postponements, manipulations and cheating to contend with,” lamented Fr. Shay Cullen, founding president of Preda Foundation, a non-government organization (NGO) fighting for the protection of women and children from sex slavery since 1969, as well as for the promotion of human rights, peace, and non-violence in the Philippines.
“Others seek justice in the courts but their complaints are frequently dismissed. The individual child can become an angry, violent person when abused and denied justice,” he added.
The Irish Columban missionary said prolonging the child sex abuse case favors lawyers working for the accused, stressing this allows them to earn more money aside from what they get per hearing, plus retainer fees.
Once the will of the victim wears down due to the delay, many just give up on the case, until the rapist get away with the crimes.
He explained the perennial neglect of the individual personality and rights of children is part of a wider injustice, which may lead them to grow up with grudge, a desire for justice, and anger at being denied it, which may in turn make them vengeful and violent.
“When whole communities are degraded, oppressed and exploited they become angry and seek redress through demonstrations, riots and protest. This leads to inevitable confrontation and violence,” he added.
Cullen noted that before the ratification of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, there were few laws to fully protect the rights of children or treat them as individual people in the own right.
“The high status given to a child in the Gospel values was generally ignored for 2,000 years. Since the approval of the Convention, all member states had to draft their laws based on the convention document. But are those laws really and wholeheartedly implemented and beneficial to children?” he asked.
The priest bemoaned that in the Philippines these laws are almost always taken for granted, if at all.
“Police, Prosecutors, judges are more favorable to the abusers than to the children. More accused child abusers and rapists are allowed to go free than those who get convicted,” he explained.
Cullen cited corruption, bribery, favoritism, and lack of confidence in the law, the incompetence of some police officers, prosecutors, and judges as some of the reasons why this happens.
“For all these, there are good, honest, hardworking judges for the most part that take pride in carrying out justice. The good judges restore people’s trust and respect in the judicial process, but they are all too few,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)