Intelligence obtained from the Australian Federal Police led to the biggest rescue of victims at once in the Philippines in June. Sixteen children, one as young as 10, were freed in an operation in the north of the country.
The operation was instigated after a January search of a 56-year-old Queensland man’s baggage at Sydney Airport by Australian Border Force officers uncovered child abuse material and incriminating messages.
Baird said agencies such as the AFP and the Brisbane-based, AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation were doing “excellent” work trying to combat child exploitation in connection with overseas authorities such as the Philippine National Police.
But with $1.3 million having flowed from Australia in more than 9000 suspicious transactions between 2020 and 2022, he believes the scourge of online sexual abuse needs to be tackled by technology giants and banks with more urgency.
“The single biggest thing that can be done is [for] the tech companies to use technology that’s designed to prevent or disrupt livestreamed child sexual abuse, including the manufacturers of camera-enabled devices as well because the technology does exist,” Baird said.
“You saw with the terrible massacre in Christchurch [in 2019] when terrorism was livestreamed, that was a moment in time when Facebook said ‘you can’t have that’ and actually took some proactive steps.
“One of the things that disturbs me is a lot of it is just happening on the normal web through these regular social media channels. The size and the scale of it tells us that in a way.”
The report, released on Thursday, also recommends the reporting and blocking of suspicious transactions by financial institutions to be expedited.
Samson Inocencio, a Philippines lawyer, said he hoped the findings would encourage the government in Manila to intensify the fight against trafficking of children for abuse, and convince communities to report the crime.
Traffickers’ use of pre-paid SIM cards makes them difficult to track.
“Obviously, this is a global issue fuelled by demand [internationally] but we would love for greater community reporting especially because a lot of these incidents are happening in local communities across the Philippines,” he said. “We would love for local people to be aware of what they can do.”
Philippine authorities have removed 1181 victims of child abuse from harm and caught 359 perpetrators, according to the International Justice Mission.
https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/one-in-100-filipino-kids-are-victims-of-online-abuse-australians-are-driving-the-demand-from-home-20230906-p5e2j4.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world The Scale of Harm report finds Australian offenders are a key driver of child abuse