Swedish gov’t intensifies crackdown on online sexual predators
MANILA, Philippines — Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Harald Fries has expressed the Swedish government’s commitment to combat online sexual exploitation in the Philippines and crackdown on perpetrators.
During a media discussion on gender-based violence on Tuesday, Fries described online sexual exploitation as a “very, very serious problem.”
“Unfortunately, there are many foreigners among the perpetrators. They sit in their home countries, and they pay for these services. Unfortunately, also many of them are Swedish,” he said.
“My government takes this very, very seriously. We have police officers in Bangkok (in Thailand) who works full-time with these issues. We realized about two and a half years ago that we needed more capacity in the Philippines to fight this crime,” he added.
According to the Swedish envoy, the embassy has recruited staff who would work full-time on these problems.
He also noted the increasing cases of online sexual exploitation in the Philippines.
“We’ve had a police officer in Bangkok for many many years. His office covers the Philippines, it’s a regional responsibility, and online sexual exploitation is increasing for what I understand, particularly here in the Philippines for various reasons,” Fries said.
“We realized a few years ago that we needed someone local here to assist us. So, that was when it was decided to recruit a local staff member who works full time on this problem assisting the [Philippine] police [and] the Nordic police,” he added.
Fries said Filipinos are usually involved in selling online sexual services to citizens of Nordic countries.
“They commit their crimes at home in the Nordic countries and through cooperation [between Philippine and Nordic authorities], the perpetrators in the Nordic countries are caught and also the people that help them here in the Philippines are caught,” he explained.
“[This is] because they obviously need people who sell the services to them and these are usually Filipinos here, so they (Filipinos) are also caught. But it’s not easy to catch them because this happens in cyberspace,” he added.
Downturn in online sexual crimes
Fries noted that their success rate is increasing.
“So my government is really putting a lot of importance to this, and we are increasing our capacity to do something concrete about it,” he said.
The Swedish envoy, however, admitted that arresting online sexual predators is not an easy task.
“It’s not easy to catch these perpetrators. It’s a long process, so the problem is there are big, and so far I think we’ve only caught a few,” he said.
Despite this, he said he remains optimistic that the collaboration between authorities of both countries will lead to a “downturn” in online sexual exploitation.
“But we are increasing the effort, and we are strengthening the cooperation with Philippine authorities and our methods are getting better. So I think there will be many more successes, and hopefully this will lead to the downturn in this crime,” he added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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