By Fr. Shay Cullen
(His columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line)
The past twenty years has seen a global response against the evil of the abuse of women and children, trafficking, sex slavery and exploitation. Hundreds of thousands of people, government officials, the United Nations, civil society and people of good will and committed Christians have worked together or separately to address modern slavery. The power of love, compassion, goodness and the respect for human dignity has made itself a strong force in the world. Thousands of women and children have been saved and helped to live a better and dignified life despite the trauma of abuse and victimization by commercial sexual exploiters. There are wonderful dedicated people, human rights and child rights defenders battling this particular obnoxious and loathsome crime and they endure the retaliation of the abusers and their coddlers.
Fourteen year-old Julie was sent by her parents to a recruiter who promised her a job as a domestic worker but instead she was enslaved, and sexually exploited in a Philippine sex club frequented by foreign sex tourists. With the help of children’s rights defenders working undercover, she was found and rescued. Today she and many others are recovering and struggling to return to a more normal life at the Preda Home for Children in Olongapo city. This is possible because of new laws that are being gradually implemented to help victims.
Many minors are trafficked locally and abroad. The police and immigration authorities in European countries have been made aware that they are victims, not criminals, and deserving of help, protection, medical and psychological healing. The victims themselves are being empowered to speak out against those who have sexually abused and exploited them whether they are paedophiles, parents, relatives, clergy and irresponsible bishops, police, prosecutors and judges. The tide of public opinion has turned in favor of the victims and their protectors. Those who think they are above the law must know they are not.
Let’s celebrate heroes: the child and women defenders, social workers and paralegal workers, and human rights campaigners. When they challenge and confront the wrongdoers and protect abused children, the perpetrators lash back and attack those helping the children and exposing the crimes.
In Olongapo City, an American, Allan Dale Edmonds, according to court documents, has been convicted and sentenced to prison for malicious prosecution but has somehow contrived to have his jailing held in abeyance for over a year. (see the court decision at www.preda.org/legal) He should be made to serve his sentence according to Philippine law and his American citizenship ought not be a cloak of privilege, entitlement, deference and obstruction of justice. No one should be coddled by the judicial system.
Despite his conviction, Edmonds has continued for years, his retaliation against the rescuers of his abused child by filing numerous false and baseless libel and slander charges against them. These false allegations are spread by him on the internet to the media and the public allegedly to defame and belittle those of us who saved his 7 year-old child from her abuser – his own son and house helper.
His alleged cover-up of that crime was exposed by the Preda child defenders who have rescued hundreds of children from abusers and brought many of the perpetrators to justice. Edmonds retaliated against them ever since his son and house helper was charged. Edmonds counter-charged with outrageous accusations, clearly malicious. All, but one libel case, have been dismissed by the courts and shown to have been false and baseless. His conviction and sentencing in the Olongapo Court as a criminal for false malicious prosecution against a prosecutor has deprived him of all credibility.
One of the crosses child rights defenders carry, as did Jesus Christ himself, are false defamatory accusations against social workers and defenders of human rights. Why this legal smoke screen? To keep police and media attention off his activities and to justify their actions with a facade of innocence or to intimidate and silence those of us who speak out to defend human rights?
The brave Norwegian people refused to be intimidated by the malicious acts of a single obsessed publicity-seeking killer. How right the judge was to deny him the courtroom as a platform for his ideology and defamation of others.
So too the likes of Edmonds must not be given privileges above Filipinos who suffer prison even if innocent, but since he is convicted and sentenced in a fair trial by a just and honorable judge, Mr. Allan Dale Edmonds, who has been convicted of malicious prosecution must not be coddled any longer but be taken to prison and serve out his sentence according to Philippine law. (email@example.com)