October 7, 2022
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – International Justice Mission (IJM) on Wednesday published the first definitive guide to conducting Videotaped In-Depth Disclosure Interviews (VIDI) – a landmark leap forward in prosecuting local traffickers while protecting survivors from re-traumatization.
Known as the VIDI Framework, the resource uses years of legal, academic and practical knowledge to present the model for conducting interviews that can be recorded and used throughout investigations, court procedures and in aftercare, shielding survivors from multiple retellings of their abuse.
The use of VIDIs also protects survivors from having to face abusers, often family members or relatives of the victims, in court or re-narrate traumatic stories in front of an open court, which studies have shown to be extremely distressing and anxiety-inducing for children, potentially effecting their testimony and wellbeing.
“The VIDI Framework promotes child protection by providing the knowledge to understand how trauma affects the capacity of a survivor to effectively communicate events of abuse and exploitation in any setting that requires its immediate disclosure,” said Atty. Nelisa Guevara-Garcia, Director of National Prosecution Development at IJM Philippines.
“We are hopeful that the VIDI Framework would not only educate child protection advocates but also serve as a reference for the national government in crafting relevant policies and protocols that will prioritize the best interests of children.”
Together with the Philippine government, IJM pioneers the advancement of trauma-informed, child-protective prosecutions, as we continue the fight against online sexual exploitation of children – one of the world’s fastest, borderless crimes.
As of September 2, IJM has supported 84 cases of online sexual exploitation of children, with a total of 198 recorded interviews with survivors taken during inquest or preliminary investigation. This has saved 131 child-sex abuse survivors from having to relive their traumatic episodes in front of an open court during these proceedings. Among those cases, prosecutors secured 36 convictions, while through plea agreements still had VIDIs among its pieces of evidence.
“I recovered well because of the help of VIDI. I experienced debriefing and it was helpful to me - as the children are not retraumatized,” Briella*, a survivor leader.
Developed in line with Philippine laws, the VIDI Framework outlines the process of conducting interviews that are admissible as evidence in court while also prioritizing the well-being of the subject.
Currently, in Republic Act No. 11930 also known as the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act specifically, section 19 on Jurisdiction reads:
Jurisdiction over cases for the violation of this Act shall be vested in the Family Court which has territorial jurisdiction over the place where the offense or any of its essential elements was committed pursuant to Republic Act No. 8369, otherwise known as the “Family Courts Act of 1997”: Provided, That the court shall not require the presence of a child victim during the trial and that the child shall testify in accordance with “Rule Examination of a Child Witness”, as may be provided by the Supreme Court and the Rules of Court.
The proviso is significant to the VIDI Framework, especially in mainstreaming its utilization in court proceedings as it is a specific provision in the new law that expressly stipulates in mandatory terms the legal basis for the use of VIDI under the conditions set forth in the Rules on Examination of the Child Witness (RECW) in lieu of the victim’s testimony in court.
IJM intends that the Framework is the go-to resource for caseworkers and front-liners in the pursuit of justice for victims of online sexual exploitation.
“In releasing this publication, it is our hope to mainstream VIDIs as a child-protective and victim-centric prosecution strategy in court proceedings,” said Prosecutor Wendell P. Bendoval, Executive Director of the Philippines Department of Justice’s Interagency Council Against Trafficking.
“The Philippines government has never been more equipped to carry the mission forward. Together, let us build a robust system of protection for the young and the vulnerable.”
The VIDI Framework can be accessed for free at osec.IJM.org/resources.