Online sexual exploitation of children 'hard to detect'

DAVAO. Davao Regional Prosecutor and Iacat-Davao Chair lawyer Janet Grace Fabrero giving her opening remarks during The Basic Extensive Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Training for Investigators. (Photo from Dangya Dalisay Facebook page)

ONLINE sexual exploitation of children (Osec) cases are almost impossible to detect if not through the cooperation of international authorities, said an agent (anonymity requested) involved in the investigation of Osec cases in the Philippines.

The agent, during an interview on the sideline of The Basic Extensive Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Training for Investigators, said they only receive an Osec case through a referral from international police, citing the fact that Osec is a "hidden crime" that usually involves close relatives of the victim, thus it is almost impossible for them to receive through a walk-in complainant information about it.

He said this is one of the factors they have not received information coming from the community or neighbors of Osec suspects, thus international police or organization involvement is necessary as the first step in investigating Osec cases.

"As far as detection or identification of Osec case is concerned, napakahirap kase pano mo ma-momonitor yong conversation of Osec through online kung wala kang available information? Compared to street-based (child prostitution) andyan na yan eh, nasa location na at madali mong makita kung sino yung trafficker at sino yung victim," the agent said.

Aside from that, he said neighbors of Osec suspects may have knowledge about it but they do not know what the procedures are in reporting it to authorities.

Thus, he said one of the steps the government is doing to combat Osec is through giving extensive training for all the authorities involved in resolving Osec cases.

Meanwhile, an official of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Davao Region (Iacat-Davao) said one of the challenges of the authorities in combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse is how to investigate it.

Iacat-Davao Chair lawyer Janet Grace Fabrero said in her opening speech during the training that apprehending and prosecuting the offenders are both difficult because of the tedious requirements in evidence gathering and preservation of data gathered from the cyberspace.

"This is the challenge confronting the investigators, prosecutors, and even our judges today, if we do not set parameters within the common understanding among and between the three prominent pillars of justice I mentioned earlier, we may not succeed in bringing justice for the victims of Osec," said Fabrero, who is also Davao's regional prosecutor.

She also said that trafficking against person including Osec cases have become alarming and increasing, with a total cases of 46 since the inception of the Iacat-Davao.

She said the aim of the authorities involved in the apprehending, prosecuting, and convicting Osec suspects is not just to arrest the suspects but to make them accountable for the offenses they have committed, thus a conviction is necessary and considered an accomplishment especially for the victims.

The training is a week-long activity that started Monday, November 18, and spearheaded by Iacat-Davao through the efforts of Iacat-Davao chief of operations Deputy Regional Prosecutor Barbara Mae Flores.

It was attended by experts, both national and international, in Osec cases.


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