MANILA, Philippines — An international human rights organization wants President Benigno Aquino III and US President Barack Obama to discuss efforts to stem human trafficking when the American leader visits the country on April 28 and 29.
The International Justice Mission is involved in efforts to stop human trafficking in the country, particularly those of minors forced into the sex trade. The director of its Manila field office, Samson Inocencio Jr., is the NGO representative for the children’s sector of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.
In a statement released by the NGO, Inocencio said that, despite the “successful collaboration amongst the US, UK, Australian and Philippine governments” in rescuing young trafficking victims, “there is still a lot of work to be done.”
“We hope that next week’s visit is an opportunity to reaffirm the joint commitment of both nations in fighting this form of modern-day slavery,” he said.
The IJM’s call comes after an earlier one by the Blas F. Ople Police Center for the inclusion of anti-trafficking provisions in the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation, better known as the agreement for the increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines.
“IJM believes that criminal accountability and punishment is crucial for deterring and ending the crime of trafficking,” Inocencio said.
The IJM official said effective law enforcement has greatly reduced the number of trafficked minors, citing the results of Project Lantern, a four-year project in Metro Cebu, which “a team of independent criminologists” concluded had led to “a 79 percent reduction in the availability of minors for sex.”
“Project Lantern has shown that when laws are enforced and the justice system works, children and other victims are protected,” Inocencio said.