Philippines: New human trafficking investigation procedures aim for air-tight cases, improved conviction rates

Manila (The Philippines), 8 February 2013
- The Philippines National Police (PNP) has approved - and begun to use - a comprehensive manual on how to handle trafficking in persons investigations.

Developed with assistance from UNODC, the Standard Operating Procedures: Trafficking in Persons Investigations is a step-by-step guide for front-line investigators and their supervisors. It outlines standardized operational planning procedures and teaches risk assessment, management of victims, and the use of special investigation tools and techniques to pursue and investigate TIP. National police leaders expressed strong support for the new procedures.

"The Philippine National Police (PNP) will actively use the Standard Operating Procedures for Trafficking in Person investigations. Working for solutions to the human trafficking problem is a lasting goal of the PNP," said Philippine National Police Deputy Director General Rommel DF Heredia.

The Manual stresses the importance of strategic planning, and outlines the roles played by case managers, investigators and investigation unit chiefs. A key objective is to provide a properly supervised, consistent police response to human trafficking and the preparation of air-tight cases that lead to the successful prosecution of offenders.

Prior to the Manual, the absence of a standard operating procedure for trafficking in persons made it difficult for officers and prosecutors to build an airtight case. This resulted in low conviction rates for trafficking in persons cases.

To address these issues, the PNP - with support from UNODC, the Philippine Centre on Transnational Crime (PCTC) and the Embassy of Japan - created a Technical Working Group to develop a manual of standard operating procedures to investigate human trafficking cases in the Philippines. The objective was to provide a consistent response to trafficking that would strengthen future investigations, allow for national-level supervision of local human trafficking-related investigations - and have a significant impact on human trafficking in the Philippines by leading to more effective and consistent investigations.

The TWG's manual of standard operating procedures was approved for use in mid-January by Philippine National Police, Chief Superintendent Mr. Francisco Don C. Montenegro.

TWG partner Philippine Centre of Transnational Crime (PCTC) is hopeful that the Manual will have a positive impact on human trafficking investigations as front-line Philippine National Police officers begin to use the standard operating procedures nation-wide.

"I am very optimistic that we can improve human trafficking investigations with these Standard Operating Procedures for Trafficking in Persons Investigations," said Mr. USEC Felizardo M. Serapio, Jr. Executive Director of the PCTC. "It is now our challenge to cascade the implementation to our front liners so they are more capable and knowledgeable."

The implementation of this programme represents a great opportunity in the fight against human trafficking for the Philippines and for the ASEAN region as a whole. It was made possible through the generous support of the Government of Japan.