THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lauded the passage of Republic Act (RA) No. 11862 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act which seeks to strengthen the government’s campaign against human trafficking.

CHR noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided assistance to individuals who are mostly victims of labor trafficking, sex trafficking and online sexual exploitation and armed conflict.

CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia said with the pandemic lockdowns, there has been an alarming increase of cases of online child sex trafficking.

In 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly received an estimated 2.8 million complaints of online sexual exploitation of children, she added.

"RA No. 11862 offers a crucial and most welcome provision. Internet intermediaries such as social media platforms, banking, and e-commerce intermediates can now be held liable if they knowingly, or by gross negligence, allow the use of their infrastructure to promote trafficking," de Guia said.

With the legislation in place, the process of resolving cases will be expedited, according to the CHR.

De Guia said law enforcement agencies are mandated to conduct counter-trafficking intelligence gathering and investigation within 10 days upon receipt of a report, statement, or affidavit.

She added that authorities may also intercept communications of at least one individual suspected of or charged with having committed the crime, but with a caveat that there is a written order from a regional trial court.

This requirement may be waived, however, if the victim is a child and the crime involves the use of computer systems and digital platforms, according to de Guia.

She said the new legislation also enforces heavier sanctions when the crime is committed during a crisis or disaster, a public health concern like a pandemic, humanitarian conflict, emergency situation, or when the trafficked person is a survivor of a disaster or a human-induced conflict.

The CHR commends the government's efforts to build stronger and more efficient mechanisms to protect the rights and life of marginalised sectors, especially women and children as they are the most vulnerable to human trafficking, de Guia said.

"As duty bearers, we extend our support to implementing agencies to ensure greater shared responsibility in putting an end to this method of exploitation and abuse," the CHR official added.