Listen: Steve Baird from International Justice Mission Australia chats to Aaron Wright on Hope Drive. Above: Police make arrests and rescue children at the site of cybersex crimes in the Philippines. (All pictures: IJM)
By Clare BruceMonday 31 Aug 2020Hope Drive
With 13 more children just rescued from internet sexual abuse being perpetrated from Australia, Australians are now being urged to sign a petition calling on the NSW Government to get tough on slavery.
A tip-off from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) led to the rescue of 15 sex abuse victims – 13 of them minors – as well as five arrests, on 20 August in the Philippines. The children were being held in sexual slavery in Bislig City, by adults working in co-operation with an Australian abuser, who paid for live-streamed online sexual exploitation – also known as ‘cybersex trafficking’.
The AFP had arrested an Australian for child exploitation related offences here in Australia. In investigating that case, the AFP uncovered links to suspected cybersex trafficking facilitators in the Philippines. They made the tip to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center – of which International Justice Mission is a founding member – leading to the arrests.
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Fresh Calls for NSW Government to Get Tough
The sting has added fresh fuel to International Justice Mission’s campaign, calling on the NSW Government to begin enforcing the NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018.
The legislation, passed by the NSW Parliament in June 2018, requires large businesses to put anti-slavery policies in place, with strong penalties for failing to comply. It also introduces new crime definitions to address the skyrocketing crime of cybersex trafficking of children.
Before the NSW Modern Slavery Act could be enforced, however, the NSW Government paused the legislation and launched a parliamentary inquiry into it – to clarify areas where the act overlaps with the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018. The inquiry has now concluded, and has recommended the new law come into place at the start of 2021 or sooner.
Advocacy groups like IJM are urging the government to enact it now, saying that innocent victims are suffering while they delay.
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While the victims of cybersex are often overseas in nations like the Philippines, a large percentage of those demanding and perpetrating the crimes – nearly 1 in 5 – are Australians, many of them from NSW. Mr Baird says the new laws will help to stop these criminals from continuing their abuse.
“Cybersex trafficking of children is a truly transnational crime and this operation shows Australians are part of the problem as well as the solution,” said Steve Baird, CEO of IJM Australia.
While the victims of cybersex are often overseas in nations like the Philippines, a large percentage of those demanding and perpetrating the crimes – nearly 1 in 5 – are Australians, many of them from NSW.
“It’s shameful and unacceptable that an Australian perpetrator is involved in such unspeakable abuse of young Filipino children. We applaud the unwavering efforts of Australian police in partnering with Philippine and other law enforcement, and IJM, to shut down this crime.”
Mr Baird said the NSW Modern Slavery Act 2018 is one of “the strongest and most comprehensive pieces of antislavery legislations in the world”.
“It is critical that this Act be proclaimed into law as it will positively impact the lives of thousands of exploited people,” he said.
Once enforced, the new laws will allow an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner to work to combat modern slavery, and provide advocacy and assistance for victims.
Sign the Petition
IJM is aiming to collect 20,000 signatures on a petition from NSW residents before close of business on Tuesday, September 1. Find out more and sign the petition.