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Fifteenth IJM-supported operation during COVID-19 rescues 7 children from cybersex trafficking

TAGUIG, THE PHILIPPINES – On Wednesday 17 June 2020, police arrested a 30-year-old female online sex trafficker and brought seven children and a woman to safety. The youngest rescued was a 2-year-old-boy. It’s the fifteenth cybersex trafficking operation supported by IJM since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March.

The operation took place around 2pm with the help of members of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center, Anti Trafficking in Persons Division (PNP-WCPC-ATIPD), in coordination with local authorities in Taguig. US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and International Justice Mission (IJM) provided additional support.

Inside the suspect’s house, police were able to recover the following evidence from the suspect: one mobile phone, two money transfer receipts and a USB flash drive allegedly used by the suspect to carry out the crime.

There were a total of seven individuals rescued from the scene – four males aged 2, 4, 11 and 14 years old and four females aged 3, 7, 15 and 27 years old. They are now undergoing the necessary trauma counselling and shelter placements.

Among the survivors was a 27-year-old deaf female, her 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. This woman is the sister of the suspect and one of the male victims is the suspect’s own son.

The Philippines Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) also assisted in the investigation by providing their resources and expertise in case development. The PICACC, a model for an enhanced global response against OSEC, is a cooperation among local and international law enforcement, namely the PNP-WCPC, the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD), the Australian Federal Police, and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA); in partnership with non-government organisation, IJM.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Perkins, Australian Federal Police Senior Officer to the Philippines said, “This significant operational outcome further highlights the effectiveness of the PICACC and partner agencies in collectively bringing together capabilities to drive a collaborative response to counter child exploitation and protect our most vulnerable.”

“This case shows that cybersex trafficking offenders will go to great lengths to abuse the most vulnerable, but the law shall hold them accountable to the fullest extent,” said IJM Manila Field Office Director Reynaldo Bicol.

Note to Editors:

Note: 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.”

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