DOJ starts operation of office vs online trafficking, sexual exploitation of children

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An office dedicated to following leads of Internet-based trafficking in persons (TIP) and online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is now operational, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Friday.

The Cyber-TIP Monitoring Center will be manned by the National Bureau of Investigation Anti Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTrAd), with 10 Intelligence Agents assigned by the DOJ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (DOJ-IACAT).

The facility, the first of its kind in the country, was put up with the support of the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA), according to a DOJ statement.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra, UK Ambassador Daniel Pruce, DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Villar, NBI Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor, UK NCA representative Jackie Greene, DOJ Assistant Secretary Nicholas Felix Ty, NBI Deputy Directors Ferdinand Lavin, Antonio Pagatpat and Vicente De Guzman, NBI- AHTrAd chief Janet Francisco, and IACAT Executive Director Jinky Dedumo led the inauguration on Thursday, with some delivering their messages via videoconference.

Distor said the NBI exerted extra efforts this year to monitor social media platforms, address online complaints, and manage reports in light of the continued upsurge in OSEC activities since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

In his message, Distor said social media platforms have been used more frequently in committing OSEC as unscrupulous individuals and syndicates resort to online platforms to perpetrate various forms of human trafficking.

Guevarra also believes that the Internet and social media contributed to new modes of trafficking in general and the rise of OSEC in particular.

He added that advancements in technology can also assist in detecting and identifying perpetrators online.

“The technological nuances of OSEC are indeed challenging, as we play catch up to modern-day criminals who change modus at lightning speed. Meticulous case build-up and precision investigations are important to build airtight cases. But expertise doesn’t come overnight. Fortunately, new tools are also available at our disposal such as the Rule on Cyber Warrants, the Revised Rules on Evidence and the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” Guevarra said in his message.

The Cyber-TIP center is equipped with the latest software and hardware tools, and will be operated by law enforcement agents who are provided with the latest training by the UK NCA.

Villar said robust law enforcement operations and working with the international police community have resulted in major gains in terms of arrest and convictions.

“The establishment of the first Cyber-TIP Monitoring Center is an important step towards realizing the common goal of eradicating OSEC,” she said.

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