Law enforcement authorities in Belgium, Australia and the Philippines have successfully concluded an operation against child sexual exploitation, resulting in the rescue of eight children.
The operation began in Belgium as a case against a Dutch citizen in Antwerp who was sexually abusing his very young foster children in Cambodia as well as other children in the Philippines. Authorities tracked his involvement in producing and distributing child abuse images (including his own material) and videos of live child abuse that were filmed in front of webcams. The Dutch suspect and a female abuser were arrested, and all eight of the vulnerable children were removed from harm.
At the beginning of June 2015 Europol organised a specialist meeting on child sexual exploitation crimes, bringing together experts from Europe and beyond. During that meeting the team leader from Crimes against Children in Antwerp (Belgium) presented a case where the Victim Identification Coordinator from Task Force Argos (Queensland, Australia) recognised the child abuse material presented, involving two of the child victims. Task Force Argos investigators, working together with the Crimes against the Person Section of the Antwerp Police in Belgium and the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines, were able to piece together enough information to identify the two child victims as well as another six children involved in the abuse. Prompt action by the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines subsequently led to the arrests and rescue of all eight children.
The case is an excellent example of how face-to-face meetings and the networking around the Europol Annual Experts Seminar on Child Sexual Exploitation Crimes can bring positive results for child safety around the world.