A stronger cooperation between the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands will further enhance the capacity of the Philippines’ lead anti-trafficking body to fulfill its mandate.
The Dutch government, represented by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands and the IACAT will formalize an agreement, by way of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will establish a more thorough partnership in battling cross-border human trafficking. This effort will effectively enhance the cooperation, coordination and communication in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons cases.
Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, chairperson of the IACAT, led the Philippine representatives in the signing of the MOU. She underscored the importance of the agreement with the Netherlands as another milestone in the government’s drive in eliminating modern-day slavery.
“The ratification of the MOU between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Philippines signifies the commitment of the government in addressing the human trafficking problem and its vow to work closely with like-minded partners to end the exploitation of the vulnerable,” De Lima said.
The agreement covers wide areas of cooperation which includes the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in human beings, sexual abuse of minors, production, import and/or export, distribution and selling of child abuse images, possession of child abuse images for sexual exploitation, and travelling child sex offenders.
The Dutch delegation was led by H.E. Marion Derckx, Human Rights Ambassador Kees van Baar, Deputy Head of Mission Ruth Emerink, and Police Liason Arjan Verhagen.
The Philippine and the Dutch governments have a long standing relationship when it comes to cases involving human trafficking. As early as 2011, the two governments have taken steps to curb reported labor trafficking cases involving overseas Filipino workers and companies based in the Netherlands.
More recently, this partnership led to the arrest and prosecution of Peter Gerard Scully by the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) and NBI Region 10. Scully, an Australian national, is accused of multiple acts of child abuse committed in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente B. Salazar, in-charge of IACAT, highlighted the significance of strong partnerships, with both local stakeholders and the international community, in hunting down human traffickers and ultimately putting them to justice.
“The prosecution of those who feed on the vulnerable through human trafficking would not be enough to disentangle the web of exploitation that they have made,” Salazar said. “It takes cooperation between nations and the resolve of like-minded individuals to deal with this matter swiftly and effectively,” he added.