IJM Manila secured the first conviction in a slavery case this year. On January 9, a court in the Philippines declared two traffickers guilty for exploiting three young teens, aged 14 to 16 years old. The girls had been rescued from commercial sex trafficking during an IJM-supported operation in 2015, and the Manila team of social workers and lawyers has been supporting their case since.
“God worked justice in this case by raising up committed and able prosecutors like Senior Asst. State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, to whom credit is due for actively prosecuting this case from the beginning to its completion. She really spent a lot of time preparing the witnesses, especially the victims, in a child-friendly manner, and took the lead in strategy,” said IJM’s attorney Rory Lambino-Torres, adding, “This gives me hope and inspiration that our public prosecutors are becoming experts in the fight against child trafficking.”
IJM attorneys like Rory work side-by-side with local prosecutors to build a case and present evidence of trafficking. This case took two and a half years in court, requiring perseverance and diligence from the prosecutor, IJM staff, and especially the survivors who chose to participate in the trial. Seeing the law enforced for them delivers a sense of justice and hope—and it sends an important message to other would-be traffickers. Over time, IJM has seen that when laws are enforced and traffickers face real consequences, at-risk children are safer from exploitation.
“These survivors are some of the bravest women I know,” Rory shared, “Despite the exploitation that they suffered, they testified in Court strongly — such that part of their testimonies were quoted by the Court in the Decision — and they did it with such grace.”