Philippines, anti-child porn law adopted

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last Tuesday signed into law Republic Act 9775, otherwise known as the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009. As the law defines it, child pornography is any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged or involved in real or simulated sexual activities.

The law mandates that child pornography victims be given emergency shelter or appropriate housing, counseling, free legal services, medical or psychological services, livelihood and skills training, and educational assistance.

By signing the law, the President has demonstrated the government’s compliance with different international treaties such as the Rights of the Child; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.

The penalties for violating the child pornography law range from arresto mayor to reclusion perpetua and a fine of between P300,000 to P5 million, depending on the gravity of the offense.

Under the law, Internet service providers (ISP) must report to the Philippine National Police or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) within seven days from obtaining facts and circumstances that any form of child pornography is being committed using its server or facility.

To monitor compliance, the law creates an Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography to be headed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Members of the council are the heads of the Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine National Police, Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Information and Communication Technology, National Telecommunications Commission, Council for the Welfare of Children, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, Optical Media Board and NBI.

Three representatives from children’s non-government organizations will also be included in the council.

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