New law OKs naming human trafficking suspects

Posted at 03/07/2013 8:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The names of human trafficking suspects can now be published, according to a new law recently signed by President Aquino, an official of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) said yesterday.

Republic Act 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012, removed the confidentiality provision in the previous law. RA 9208 prohibited the names and personal circumstances of both victims and suspects in human trafficking cases from being made public at any stage of investigation, rescue, prosecution and trial.

The new law also highlighted the state’s exercise of jurisdiction over any acts of human trafficking even if they are committed outside the country, provided that the suspect is a Filipino.

“Those who exploit our citizens should not only be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed. The public should also be informed of their identities to prevent them from being victimized by these individuals… they should also be put to shame for engaging in a crime against our hapless fellow citizens,” said Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, who is in charge of the IACAT.

RA 10364, which amended RA 9208, was signed by President Aquino last Feb. 6 and published in The STAR yesterday.

He said journalists can now report certain information about the complainants, provided they willingly sign a statement waiving their right to confidentiality, as provided under Section 7 of RA 10364.

This amendment effectively allows the government to make use of the “name and shame” method in combating human smuggling syndicates, Salazar said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, IACAT chairperson, said in a statement that she believes the amendments would result in a stronger government campaign against human trafficking syndicates.

Among the other amendments of the previous law is the inclusion of attempted trafficking as a crime punishable by imprisonment of 15 years and a fine of P500,000 to P1 million.

The new law defines attempted trafficking as a crime “where there are acts to initiate the commission of a trafficking offense but the offender failed to or did not execute all the elements of the crime, by accident or by reason of some cause other than voluntary desistance.”

RA 10364 also differentiates between accessories and accomplices to human trafficking activities.

An accomplice “knowingly aids, abets, cooperates in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts.” Accessories, on the other hand, are “those who have knowledge of the commission of the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principal or as accomplices take part of its commission subject to specific acts stated in the law.”