US report flags PH’s failure to convict officials complicit in trafficking crimes
MANILA, Philippines — While the Philippine government remains fully compliant with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, it still failed to convict officials complicit in trafficking crimes and probe such crimes in the labor sector, according to the United States’ Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for 2021.
According to the report from the U.S. Department of State, the Philippines retained its Tier 1 rank, meaning that the country “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”
“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not convict any officials for complicity in trafficking crimes and did not vigorously investigate labor trafficking crimes that occurred within the Philippines or provide training to labor inspectors on the indicators of trafficking,” said the report, which was released Thursday, July 1.
“The government also identified fewer victims than the previous reporting period and resources for law enforcement and specialized services for victims remained inadequate,” it added.
Nevertheless, the report commended the Philippine government for continuing to implement “serious and sustained efforts” even amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These efforts, according to the report, include the prosecution of “more” traffickers than last year, including “significantly more defendants charged with using child soldiers and sentencing the majority of convicted traffickers to significant terms of imprisonment.”
The government also increased the number of prosecutors assigned to anti-trafficking task forces and the number of staff to its anti-trafficking coordination body, the report noted.
Meanwhile, the report also cited the government’s move to open a specialized shelter and one-stop service center in Manila and provided assistance to more than 1,000 victims.
The U.S. State Department recommended to the Philippines increased efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict complicit officials and labor traffickers.
It also asked the government to “strengthen the capacity of local government units to provide reintegration services for trafficking survivors, including trauma-informed care, job training, and in-country employment.”
The U.S. agency also recommended the following measures:
- Provide increased support to government and NGO (non-governmental organization) programs that provide specialized care for trafficking victims, including child victims of online sexual exploitation.
- Establish and implement a process to ensure systematic and ongoing input from a diverse community of survivors on the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of anti-trafficking policies and programs.
- Increase efforts to ensure victims receive court-ordered restitution and compensation ordered through civil judgments.
- Increase resources for anti-trafficking task forces to conduct timely investigations, coordinated operations, and prosecutions while providing robust victim and witness assistance services.
- Increase efforts to identify and assist labor trafficking victims, including by providing training to law enforcement, social service providers, and labor inspectors on indicators of trafficking.
- Provide increased resources for law enforcement units designated to investigate all forms of trafficking.
- Consistently implement the coordinated interagency response to providing services to returning Filipinos who experienced sex and labor trafficking overseas.
- Create a central database for information on illegal recruiters and human trafficking cases to facilitate interagency coordination in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting traffickers.
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