Australia has enhanced the fight to counter child sexual exploitation offshore with the opening of a new international investigative centre in the Philippines.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton welcomed today’s inauguration of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) in Quezon City which will combat the online exploitation of children.
The PICACC combines representatives from the Philippine National Police Women and Children’s Protection Center, the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division and the International Justice Mission (IJM) with support from the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (UK NCA) and the Australian Federal Police.
“The Philippines has been identified as an alarming focal point for predators who seek to exploit children via pay per view livestreamed abuse, with Australians being among the offenders accessing this insidious service,” Mr Dutton said.
“In 2017 alone, the Philippines received 45,645 National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children cyber-tips related to this crime type.”
Over the past three years in the Philippines more than 150 Australians registered on the National Child Offender Register have been refused entry to the Philippines and returned to Australia, following the AFP providing advice regarding their travel to the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.
In 2018, 44 children were rescued from child exploitation premises in the Philippines as a result of collaboration between the AFP and the Philippine National Police.
Law enforcement agencies in the Philippines have responded to these crimes by combining forces with Australian and United Kingdom agencies, and a non-government organisation, to draw together the resources, training and investigative expertise to tackle the exploitation of children together.
Mr Dutton said Australia remains committed to pursuing predators and removing children from harm anywhere across the world.
“The opening of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation in Brisbane last year helped bolster the response from our law enforcement agencies here in Australia and provides expert capabilities in the battle to prevent the exploitation of children globally,” he said.
“Being part of this new collective in the Philippines is another step in reducing harm at the source and protecting the most vulnerable in the world – children – who are at risk of being trafficked, sold and sexually exploited online for the sake of someone’s perverted sexual gratification.
“As Australians, we should be appalled that there are people within our own communities who seek to exploit children in this way, but also thankful that our law enforcement agencies are working tirelessly through the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams across Australia and with partner agencies around the world, to find and prosecute those responsible.”