Thursday, April 28, 2011

Binay calls for tougher stance against human trafficking

Business Mirror
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:03
Butch Fernandez / Reporter

VICE President Jejomar Binay on Thursday batted for a tougher government crackdown against human traffickers as he called on judges, prosecutors and law enforcers to deliver “greater results” in the combating human trafficking.

Addressing the multiagency Summit on Trafficking in Persons, Binay said: “We must demonstrate greater results in efficiently investigating, prosecuting, and convicting both labor and sex trafficking offenders involved in the trafficking of Filipinos in the country and abroad.”

He pressed concerned agencies to increase efforts to “vigorously investigate and prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking, dedicate more resources and personnel to prosecuting trafficking cases and devote increased resources to victim and witness protection.”

Binay added that as the presidential adviser for overseas workers’ concerns, it is also his “personal advocacy to see that we increase our efforts to engage governments of destination countries, through diplomatic and law enforcement channels, in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders.”

In attendance at the summit, convened by the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, were officials of the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of the Interior and Local Governments and the Philippine National Police, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Judicial Academy.

According to Binay, who serves as chairman emeritus of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking, “human trafficking remained one of the most pressing challenges to the Philippines” adding that “cooperation between law enforcers, prosecutors and judges was crucial in addressing the issue.”

He advised the summit participants to focus on “prosecution, protection and prevention,” which were the three key result areas outlined in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report of the United States State Department.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aquino claim on trafficking corrected

Manila Standard Today
April 27, 2011
Eric B. Apolonio

THE American Embassy in Manila on Monday corrected reports that the United States had removed the Philippines from its watch list of “Tier 2” states that do not fully comply with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

In an e-mail message sent to several publications, embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Brown Thompson said an interim report cited the “significant progress” that the Philippines had made in combating human trafficking, but mentioned no change in its status as a Tier 2 state.

The next tier ranking will be in the next annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which is scheduled for release in June.

The embassy statement contradicted President Benigno Aquino III’s announcement earlier this month that 22 convictions in human trafficking cases helped remove the Philippines from the US watch list. Mr. Aquino made the announcement in General Santos City during the national convention of the Prosecutors League of the Philippines.

The Philippines has been in the United States’ Tier 2 category since 2008.

A US State Department assessment says “there are many cases of overseas Filipino workers all over the globe who are victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.”

Filipino women are often lured abroad with false promises of legitimate employment, and are subjected to commercial exploitation in destinations throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, the assessment says.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phl boosts campaign against human trafficking

The Philippine Star
April 21, 2011
By Edu Punay

MANILA, Philippines - The government has boosted its campaign against human trafficking operations in the country after joining forces with US-based human rights organization International Justice Mission (IJM).

In a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed yesterday afternoon, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and IJM committed to collaborate in combating trafficking and other violent exploitation of Filipino women and children through intensified rescue of victims and prosecution of perpetrators.

Under the MOA, the IJM would provide assistance to concerned agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, DOJ’s law enforcement arm, in terms of technical, legal and logistic support, capacity-building training, and prosecution of cases.

The non-government organization based in Washington also vowed to train NBI agents and DOJ prosecutors based on an updated manual on anti-human trafficking law enforcement and prosecution.

IJM national director for the Philippines Andrey Sawchenko said the move was part of their group’s commitment “to actively seek the protection of the law for those who most need it.”

“For those who are even now suffering in silence, victimized by traffickers and unable to win their own freedom, well-intentioned words will not be enough. They need rescue. They need security. They need to know that the public justice system will be working on their behalf,” he said.

The DOJ, for its part, vowed to strengthen anti-trafficking operations in Metro Manila, Cebu City and Angeles City in Pampanga - key areas identified to have relatively high rates of trafficking activity.

It is also tasked to prioritize resolution of human trafficking complaints and monitor the cases when they reach the courts. The department and IJM, under the MOA, would coordinate on capacity-building projects.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in her message during the signing of MOA at the DOJ, cited the importance of IJM’s assistance in the government’s campaign against human trafficking operations.

“For so long, the Philippines has been seen as a haven for human traffickers, who use our nation as a source, destination and transit point for their operations. They’ve been met with so much success that trafficking in human beings is now considered worldwide as one of the most profitable criminal activities, next to the arms and illegal drug trade.

“Our aim is simple: succeed in removing the Philippines from their ‘trade route,’” said De Lima, also chair of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, DOJ official-in-charge of IACAT operations and human trafficking cases, also welcomed the MOA.

Earlier, DOJ officials have expressed optimism that the country would be removed from the Tier 2 watch list on human trafficking of the US State Department.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rights Handbook

The Manila Times
April 2, 2011

Commission on Human Rights Chairman Loreta Ann Rosales and Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Executive Director Daisy Arago shows to media the Human Rights Defender Handbook during its launching at The University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on Friday.