September 21-24, 2020 – The International Justice Mission (IJM), in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, through the United States Department of Justice – Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance (US-DOJ-OPDAT), and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), trained sixteen (16) Prosecutors on Prosecuting Online Sexual Exploitation (POSE).
This is the fifth in a series of POSE trainings conducted by IJM, US-DOJ and IACAT. Despite the global, national and local lockdowns and community quarantine, the IJM, US-DOJ and IACAT managed to successfully launch the first ever virtual POSE Training in the country. Prosecutors from the different regions actively participated and listened to a great team of Speakers composed of Judges, Prosecutors, Law Enforcers and a Digital Forensic Examiner who are all experts in the field of online sexual exploitation of children, trafficking in persons and child pornography from the Philippines and the United States.
The POSE training utilized an award-winning virtual conference platform which allowed for increased interaction among the participants Through that online platform, the 3-day training provided practical skills on effective law enforcement and prosecution of OSEC cases and trained the participants on how to obtain and present digital evidence, both in international and domestic arena.
The program involved 3modules with 2-3 sessions each and ended with a post-training special course. The first module focused on the fundamental concepts of the current landscape of online child exploitation, digital forensic investigation, and Information drafting and prosecution of online sexual exploitation cases in court. The second module tackled prosecution of OSEC cases from proving digital evidence to presenting digital experts and parrying defense strategies. The third module discussed mutual legal assistance and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLA/MLAT), coupled with virtual practical exercises. The fourth day focused on sharing of experiences and current trends and best practices based on actual casework and conviction.
The program is designed to provide judicial perspectives on the OSEC legal framework and evolving prosecution strategies in a manner that will draw more knowledge and ideas from the participants. A mixed format of pre-recorded and live lectures with a live question and answer portion was adopted. Unlike the face-to-face setting, pre-work and homework activities were provided with videos, reading materials and hand-outs being distributed prior to the webinars. This made the training engaging despite the limitations of the online platform.
Based on the IJM’s data, POSE Training graduates/participants have gone a long way in obtaining a number of convictions for online sexual exploitation cases, with or without a full blown trial. Numerous convictions were obtained after a successful plea-bargaining negotiation. The total number of OSEC convictions from the first POSE Training until September 2020 has already reached 100. Police participants have also attributed successful rescue operations to the POSE training. To date, a total of 95 prosecutors and 45 law enforcers have completed these trainings, including the 16 prosecutors who have completed the fifth POSE virtual training.