MANILA, PHILIPPINES – From international law enforcement collaboration to robust aftercare interventions, survivor-centered prosecution practices and strong local inter-agency coalitions, the Philippines has laid the foundation for the global fight against the online sexual exploitation of children.
The second day of the Global Resolve Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Virtual Summit showcased successful practices emerging from the Philippine intervention against this borderless crime.
“This is a global issue requiring a global response and the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) is an excellent example of effective collaboration between international and local law enforcement agencies,” said Atty. Gideon Cauton, Director of International Justice Mission (IJM) Philippines National Investigations and Law Enforcement Development.
PICACC was founded in February 2019 by the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Australian Federal Police, United Kingdom National Crime Agency, and IJM.
As of October 2020, PICACC already processed 160 case referrals which resulted in 72 operations leading to the rescue of 240 victims and children at-risk, the arrest of 64 perpetrators arrested, and the conviction of six.
“This locally led Philippine initiative is truly an international model for collaboration in combating the online sexual exploitation of children. And that transnational approach is going to be vital because of the international nature of this crime,” said IJM Philippines Internet Crimes Against Children Specialist Caleb Carroll.
IJM also introduced the Global Survivor Network (GSN), a community of survivors of online sexual exploitation who empower each other towards restoration and advocate for protection of children against this crime. GSN seeks to amplify the power of survivor voice to influence change on the local, national, and global level.
“My vision for the Global Survivor Network is for survivors all around the globe to know that they are not alone, and that they are part of something much bigger,” said Charito (not her real name), one of the GSN Founding Leadership Council Members.
In the field of prosecution, speakers delved into innovative and child-protective strategies such as plea agreements, video in-depth interviewing, and remote testimony.
“The best interest of the child is in the State’s interest. It is important to note that plea agreements, as a prosecution strategy, enable the State to protect the child from further abuse and trauma, and secure perpetrator accountability swiftly and at a lesser cost,” said Senior Assistant State Prosecutor and IACAT Executive Director Jinky P. Dedumo.
Another session was devoted to discussing how inter-agency coalitions and networks, local frontliners and community leaders have come together to combat online sexual exploitation of children at the regional and local levels.
“A strong local or regional inter-agency council is a result of effective coordination among member agencies and stakeholder, strong cooperation and, of course, sharing of resources. The multi-disciplinary approach ensures that the programs and services are integrated and aligned,” said Regional Prosecutor Merlynn B. Uy of Department of Justice Region 10.
Philippine Children's Ministries Network National Director Fe Foronda said: “Everyone is aware that not one agency can do this. The engagement of everyone is vital.”
Global experts also spoke during a session discussing the critical role of global networks and alliances in combating the livestreaming of child sexual abuse and exploitation. “It’s very critical that different stakeholders voice together to develop customized solutions that meet the requirements of the communities that they are trying to help,” said Lt. Col, Dana Humaid, Chief Executive of Geneva-based NGO Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities.
The three-day summit is hosted by the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) and International Justice Mission (IJM).
The final day will delve into the global response against online sexual exploitation of children, including international prosecution collaboration and technology innovations to detect new child sexual exploitation materials and livestreamed child sexual abuse.