TAGUIG CITY, THE PHILIPPINES – A woman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve a minimum of 17 years in prison for attempted trafficking of children, violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Anti-Child Pornography Act.
The accused (name withheld to protect the identities of her two victims who are her children) entered into plea bargain agreements on March 3, 2020.
The judge sentenced her to serve 15 years in prison and pay a fine of A$15,200 for the trafficking offence. For the other offence, she was sentenced to serve a minimum of two years and a maximum of three years and six months in prison; and to pay a fine of A$3,000.
“This conviction sends a clear message to perpetrators of cybersex trafficking of children that committing this crime comes with a heavy price,” said IJM Manila Field Office Director Reynaldo Bicol. “We also welcome the fact that this conviction happened without having the child victims undergo potentially re-traumatising court testimonies. Convictions attained through plea bargains are testament to the efficiency and functionality of the Philippine Justice System as it serves to bring justice to the survivors while protecting them from further trauma.”
Under plea bargains, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offences, usually before a court trial starts. This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against the perpetrators who are often family members or neighbours, reducing the potential for re-traumatisation.
The trafficker was arrested on December 11, 2019 in Taguig City, by operatives from the National Bureau of Investigation – Anti-Human Trafficking Division. Her two children, a male and female both under 12 years old, were rescued during the operation, which stemmed from a case referral from the Danish National Police to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).
The PICACC is the global model in international collaborative efforts in combating cybersex trafficking. The PICACC is a joint initiative between the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police supported by the Australian Federal Police, United Kingdom National Crime Agency and non-government organisation International Justice Mission.
So far in IJM-supported cases, more than 80 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for cybersex trafficking since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of more than 200 cybersex trafficking.
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