Filipino and American participants from their respective law enforcement agencies and justice departments participated in “Prosecuting the Extraterritorial Child Sex Offender” training held on May 12 at the US Embassy in Manila. There were 34 attendees of the training that was organized by the US Embassy’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in partnership with the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) office of the US Department of Justice.
The training, designed for investigators, law enforcement personnel and others involved in the investigation and prosecution sex crimes against children, was held as part of the US government’s efforts to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children.
US Federal law provides “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over certain sex offenses against children. Extraterritorial jurisdiction is the legal authority of the United States to prosecute criminal conduct that took place outside its borders. Offenders prosecuted in the U.S. often face more appropriate penalties than if they were prosecuted in the country where the sexual abuse occurred.
Lawyer Mi Yung Park from CEOS conducted the Manila training that focused on U.S. statutes governing child exploitation occurring extraterritorially as well as the legal and evidentiary issues for extraterritorial cases.
Discussions included the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 (PROTECT Act); Extraterritorial Sexual Abuse of Children; Child Pornography; Case Studies; Legal Considerations; Venue and Jurisdiction; Difficulties in Overseas Cases; Victim/Witness Testimony; Evidentiary Concerns; and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) Requests.
The extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children is the act of traveling to a foreign country and engaging in sexual activity with a child in that country. Federal law prohibits an American citizen or resident to travel to a foreign country with intent to engage in any form of sexual conduct with a minor (defined as persons less than 18 years of age). It is also illegal to help organize or assist another person to travel for these purposes. This crime is a form of human trafficking, also referred to as child sex tourism. Offenders convicted in the United States can face fines and up to 30 years of imprisonment.
For more information on this US Department of Justice program, visit http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/subjectareas/trafficking.html.