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Asia-Pacific

4 children rescued, couple arrested after cybersex trafficking tip-off from Australian police

22 July 2020, BACOOR, PHILIPPINES — At noon on Monday, Philippine law enforcers conducted a sting operation rescuing three girls and one boy, aged between 2 and 8 years old from cybersex trafficking. Authorities also arrested two live-in partners at their residence in Bacoor Cavite for offering to livestream the sexual abuse of the four children in exchange for money. This operation was a joint effort carried out by the National Bureau of Investigation – Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) and the Philippine National Police – Women and Children Protection Center – Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (PNP WCPC-ATIPD), with the support of local police, international law enforcement and International Justice Mission.

The investigation originated from an Australian Federal Police (AFP) referral to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC). Acting Senior Officer Rachel Ball from the AFP in Manila said, “This investigation reinforces that collaboration between Philippine and Foreign Law Enforcement agencies through the PICACC continues unabated. The Australian Federal Police through our international command in Manila remain committed to supporting investigations of [cybersex trafficking of children] throughout the Philippines.”

The suspects were both 27 years old at the time of the arrest and living in together with the four children. Two of the rescued minors are the children of the male suspect while the other two are the female suspect’s niece and nephew. Charges will be laid.

Social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development were involved in the operation and have brought the victims to a shelter where they are receiving trauma-informed interventions.

“These children were left under the suspects’ care, expecting to be loved but instead they were exploited online. I am thankful that with this rescue, this form of abuse will no longer happen to them,”said WCPC Chief Alessandro Abella.

A key recommendation from IJM’s recently released study on this issue was to “maintain and build on the improved relationships and communication practices with international law enforcement agencies to better hold perpetrators accountable and decrease criminal impunity globally.”

IJM Philippines’ Manila Field Office Director, Atty. Rey Bicol, described cybersex trafficking of children as “a crime that knows no borders but the international community is stepping up to address this global menace.  Through close collaboration with foreign law enforcement agencies, our law enforcers have rescued four more children from the horrors of this crime, who can now begin their journey towards healing. Everyday more child abusers are being placed in jail who will no longer be able to exploit the most vulnerable for profit.”

A model for an enhanced global response against online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC), the PICACC is a cooperation among local and international law enforcement, namely the PNP-WCPC, the NBI-AHTRAD, the Australian Federal Police, and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA); in partnership with non-government organisation, IJM.  Since its commencement in February 2019, the PICACC has conducted 53 operations resulted in the rescue of 181 victims and arrest of 51 cybersex trafficking suspects.

Note to Editors:

The Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Luxembourg Guidelines, prescribes the use of the term “child sexual abuse material” or “child sexual exploitation material” instead of “child pornography”, except when referencing the name of statute. Sexualised material that depicts or otherwise represents children is a representation, and a form, of child sexual abuse and should not be described as “pornography.”


Learn more about cybersex trafficking of children here.

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