Human traffickers nowadays employ advanced means to counter authorities, according to the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Cebu.
Jesse Rudy, the new IJM National Director for the Philippines, said it’s a tougher fight that the anti-human trafficking advocates are facing considering the use of internet especially the social media which has changed the landscape of going after traffickers.
“There are new challenges that we in IJM are confronted. Human traffickers are using technology… Now, they do counter moves. They use advanced means to advance their plans,” said Rudy who assumed the post of Andrey Sawchenko as national director starting last September.
Despite several operations conducted by IJM alongside local law enforcement agencies, he said traffickers are also coming up with new ways to do what they do.
He assured, though, that IJM has been coming up with strategies against these new forms of trafficking. He refused to specify how, so as not to give away their plans.
The Philippines has Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, but Rudy said this must be enforced well.
“You can be surrounded with legal books and show them to traffickers. But if the police won’t do their job, if prosecutors won’t prosecute, and judges won’t convict traffickers, then the problem on human trafficking will continue,” he said.
The media, he said, also has an important role in educating the people on their rights as well as sending a message to traffickers that they won’t get away with what they’re doing through reporting about raids, cases filed and prosecutions.
IJM in Cebu started since 2007 but despite their efforts, cases of trafficking still exist.
“We are extraordinarily frustrated. We wake up every day frustrated that many people still fall prey to traffickers… But we wake up each day hopeful that things can change,” Rudy said.
He did not cite specific statistics, but he said there was a “significant decrease” in Cebu in terms of cases involving children for sex, which dropped by 79 percent in the past four years.
There were 103 reported cases in 2006 while there were only 21 minors found working in commercial sex establishments in 2010.
Before coming to the Philippines, Rudy worked for five years with IJM in Uganda wherein most cases reported are of property grabbing most especially among women who are widowed.
He said relatives of the husbands who die will come to houses of the women and kick them out.
But in Cebu, he said most cases involve women and children for sex and cyberpornography.