US, PHL train probers, prosecutors on sexual exploitation of children

U.S. AMBASSADOR to the Philippines Sung Kim and Philippine Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Villar, head of the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons, addressed more than 70 Philippine cybercrime investigators, prosecutors, and advocates at the training.

THE U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), partnered with the Philippine Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and International Justice Mission (IJM) to train more than 70 Philippine cybercrime investigators, prosecutors, and advocates on combatting online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) from October 9 to 11.

During the workshop, a U.S. digital forensic expert and a U.S. prosecutor taught about gathering evidence to prove OSEC cases.  Philippine experts discussed how to obtain warrants for digital evidence and shared effective techniques for prosecuting OSEC cases.  The prosecutors then conducted mock examinations of a digital forensic expert, while investigators drafted a mock search warrant for digital evidence, practiced documenting digital evidence at a mock crime scene, and rehearsed critical forensic skills for handling and processing digital evidence.

IJM Director of Legal Interventions Lawrence Aritao explained, “This training program directly supports collaborative victim-protective casework.  It focuses on maximizing digital evidence, shielding victims from unnecessary court exposure, and developing mutual support between law enforcers and prosecutors.”

In her closing remarks, Philippine Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Villar, head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons, said that the training’s goal is to develop “advocates that will not only work in getting the target number of operations or convictions, but advocates that will ensure that the victims are protected and safeguarded as they journey through the criminal justice process towards the goal of finally achieving justice for themselves.”

This is part of a series of trainings by OPDAT, IACAT, and IJM to combat online sexual exploitation of children.  Aritao said, “While it has only been seven months from the first training in March 2018, participants have gone on to achieve more than 12 convictions since that time, many of which were obtained without the need for child victims to provide testimony.”

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