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Australia

MEDIA RELEASE: Australian child sex offender convicted despite COVID-19 lockdowns

Thursday 2 April 2020

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – On Monday, an Australian child sex offender was sentenced to serve 18 years and six months in prison for sexually abusing Filipino minors and producing child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM).

The pursuit of justice for victims of cybersex trafficking of children continues despite the lockdowns due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Before a court in Melbourne, Australia, the 52-year-old accused entered guilty pleas to 33 criminal charges related to in-person child sexual abuse and production and possession of CSEM.

Following his arrest on 15 June 2017 by the Victorian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) reached out to the Philippine National Police – Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) to locate 26 female child victims in the Philippines, aged between 12 and 17 years.

WCPC’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division conducted interviews of the victims and gathered more evidence to support the prosecution of the Australian offender.

“The Australian Federal Police and PICACC participating agencies continue to focus resources on eradicating this abhorrent criminal conduct and prosecuting offenders. These trusted and valued international partnerships are critical to the protection of the most vulnerable in our communities, particularly during this uncertain and challenging time,” said Graeme Marshall, Acting Superintendent, Australian Federal Police Manila, International Command.

The Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC), which celebrated its first anniversary last month, is a collective effort to combat child exploitation across the Philippines by law enforcement – the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA); in partnership with International Justice Mission (IJM). This collaborative international effort protects children through an enhanced global response to combatting cybersex trafficking of children.

“Despite the current lockdown situation brought about by COVID-19, our police officers continue their valiant efforts in investigating cases of online sexual exploitation of children in the country. This current situation will not hinder us from performing our sworn duty to protect the most vulnerable women and children. The Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) is still operational to help stop the spread of [cybersex trafficking],” said Police Brigadier General Alessandro Abella, chief of PNP-WCPC.

IJM Philippines Director Samson Inocencio Jr. said: “Based on our experience working with law enforcement agencies to combat cybersex trafficking, we know that economic motivation – particularly the desire for easy money – is a major driving factor for this crime. With the lockdowns affecting livelihoods of many people, this economic motivation to engage in cybersex trafficking of children could increase. We can also surmise that child sex offenders abroad now have more time to spend online, and local traffickers have greater access to children in their homes – potentially increasing the demand for and supply of CSEM as well as livestreamed online sexual exploitation of children. We call on tech companies to beef up child protection mechanisms on their platforms. Let’s continue to work together to end cybersex trafficking by ending impunity.”

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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.”

Learn more about cybersex trafficking of children here.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

For media enquiries, contact:
Bianca Bryson
bbryson@ijm.org.au
0478 219 171

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems.

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