New law boosts drive vs human trafficking – CHR

Published July 4, 2022, 3:05 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

The government’s campaign against all forms of human trafficking, be it for labor or sexual exploitation, is now enhanced with the passage of Republic Act No. 11862, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.

CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that RA 11862 offers a “crucial and most welcome provision,” since it makes internet intermediaries such as social media platforms, banking, and e-commerce liable if they knowingly, or by gross negligence, allow the use of their infrastructure to promote trafficking.

“With the legislation in place, the process of resolving cases will be expedited,” De Guia, a lawyer, 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 said.

She noted that government authorities can intercept communications of an individual suspected of or charged with having committed the crime.

But she pointed out that there should be a written order from a court and the only time this requirement may be waived is if the victim is a child and the crime involves the use of computer systems and digital platforms.

With the new legislation, there are also 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, she stressed.

Citing data obtained from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), De Guia said that most of the individuals the CHR has assisted were victims of labor trafficking, followed by sex trafficking, then online sexual exploitation, and armed conflict.

She said the number of victims spiked during the government-imposed lockdowns because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) even reported that there were an estimated 2.8 million complaints of online sexual exploitation of children in 2021.

“CHR commends the government’s efforts to build stronger and more efficient mechanisms to protect the rights and life of marginalized 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,” she added.