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OSEC: The hidden crime.

Access to the internet has brought increased opportunities for children around the world but has adversely also introduced new risks and dangers. New means have allowed child sex offenders who would traditionally prey on victims in person, able to abuse victims anywhere using the internet. This new method of exploitation provides offenders access to minors from home, work, or anywhere in which their devices can access the internet and the nature of this crime makes it shielded from law enforcement or detection. The Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) is generated by the production for purpose of online publication or transmission of visual depictions of sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor for a third party who is not in the physical presence of the victim in exchange for compensation. OSEC is unique in comparison to other forms of internet crimes against children as it has a commercial element with evidence able to confirm that this commercial element was present in 83% of all cases. OSEC cases are difficult to track down due to the live-streaming nature of the crime as it does not by nature result in a stored image or video file which makes it difficult to be picked up by detection methods. According to global law enforcement data, the Philippines was the largest known source of OSEC cases and most cases are seen to be family-based crimes in which the cause perpetrator was either a biological parent or relative, highlighting that oftentimes these crimes are not of complex nature but simply occurring within the comfort of the traffickers home. Furthermore, this serious crime is not even occurring in the dark web but in plain sight on the surface of the web where most traffickers communicate and exchange materials with customers. Cases of OSEC also entail a transnational component in which many of the customers of this crime are found to be from western countries such as the United States, Sweden, and Australia whilst traffickers are found to be from the Philippines, with 64% of cases initiated by referrals from international law enforcement agencies.

One organisation which is tackling such crimes is IJM Philippines who have been partnering with the Philippine law enforcement and justice system officials for over 21 years. They work to hold criminals accountable for exploiting children in order to deter other traffickers from abusing children and continue to help build communities in which all children can be expected to be safe and protected. Since they started they have convicted 146 criminals and arrested 207 suspected criminals, as well as restoring 271 survivors of this crime. Aftercare is a large component of what IJM offers victims after they have been rescued, by delivering services that improve personal well-being which thus reduce the risk of re-victimization and enhance engagement with the public justice system. The typology of OSEC victims also makes it challenging during the trial process both in terms of safeguarding the wellbeing of survivors and ensuring successful trial outcomes, IJM has come up with solutions to this such as plea agreements, video in-depth interviewing, and specialised training.

Reliable data on these crimes is lacking which makes it impossible to study and understand the crime properly and OSEC is still a relatively new and evolving crime making it extremely complex, hidden, and difficult to address. Therefore, efforts such as the one of IJM are extremely important in order to safeguard and protect children who are vulnerable and targeted due to widespread internet access but insufficiently resourced justice systems.

To support IJM or learn more about their work please go to this link:

Written by Iona Steger. Picture by IJM.


Singapore is starting to move past its colonial influences.

Just this year Singapore has finally repealed section 377A which prohibited sex between two consenting men, a law which was inherited from the British rule but still stood strong for decades after their independence in the 1960s. Most of the laws inherited from British rule were imported from India as Singapore was administered by the British from Calcutta (Kolkata) and such laws were never made to reflect Singapore’s needs or identity. Between 1988 and 2007, 17 individuals were convicted based on section 377A and whilst this section was never severely enforced, its existence still had a tremendous effect on the LGBTQ+ community of Singapore. Section 377 had it’s slight legal implications but most of its effects were felt within society, with many individuals feeling afraid or unwelcome to open up about their true identity or sexual orientation regardless of the crime being about sexual intercourse. This law made it difficult for change and discourse in regards to the LGBTQ+ community within Singapore and even with events like Pink Dot being held once a year to celebrate them, section 377A still loomed in the minds of many.

Therefore, the repeal of such a law is an enormous victory for the LGBTQ+ community of Singapore as they can see efforts of the state in regards to working on inclusiveness and acknowledging the existence of the community. Over the years individuals have become more open and feel more supported by other Singaporeans but there is still much to be done. The issue of same sex marriage has still not been explored by the government or parliament and this closes many doors for the community. Recently, Singapore amended its constitution to prevent court challenges which in other countries have led towards the legalisation of same sex marriage such as Taiwan, Thailand and India which are recognising more rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Home Affairs is now considering the possibility of individuals convicted under section 377A to have their criminal records rendered spent. The repeal of section 377A is a great step for Singapore in terms of LGBTQ+ rights but actions such as the amendment of the constitution raise questions towards the real opinion of the government on the community in Singapore and the extent towards which they may exercise their rights.

Written by Iona Steger.(Photo by ).





Paris is following Bellinzona in sentencing another former ULIMO Commander to Life imprisonment.

On the 22nd of November 2022, Kunti Kamara, a former ULIMO commander has been sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity and torture. This trial will mark Liberian judicial history as the first-ever conviction for crimes against humanity connected to the conflicts in West African country from 1989 to 2003. This trial also follows the one of Alieu Kosiah who was sentenced for war crimes in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Similar to the one in Switzerland, this trial also makes French judicial history as the first trial for international crimes committed abroad other than those linked to the Rwandan genocide and is only the 5th trial of this nature to take place in the country. Moreover, due to the exceptional nature of this trial, it was authorized by the President of the Paris ‘Cour d’assises’ to have a full recording of it for the purpose of historical archives. It is exceptional to see the development of international criminal law and the roles of states to combine their jurisdiction to provide justice to victims of the Liberian conflict who have been forgotten by both their government and the international community. However we must not cease such efforts, it is up to states and the international community to continue to condemn individuals who have committed atrocious crimes such as crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes in the quest for justice and closure no matter the age of the conflict or the individuals involved. We must not forget and most of all, we must act when possible and this has been displayed by the success of the Kunti K. trial.

Written by Iona Steger (Photo by Civitas Maxima ).


“Kunti Kamara: Former Ulimo Commander Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Crimes against Humanity and Torture.” Civitas Maxima, 3 Nov. 2022,

Debate in Spain: Vicarious Violence Law.

In Spain, Law 5/2008, from April 24, 2008, on the right of women to eradicate male violence, modified by Law 17/2020, on December 22, 2008, provides in Article 4 that vicarious violence "consists of any type of male violence exercised against sons and daughters with the aim of causing psychological harm to the mother". In the field of parental relationships, this is the maximum expression of cruelty and violence directed against children and adolescents.

The Jose Bretón case (explained below*)  was a case that led a father to commit violence against his children as a means to harm their mother. This case led to fathers' violence against their children as a way of harming the mother being regulated as gender-based violence and, years later, to minors being considered to be direct victims by law. This reform showed great advancement in the law, but the question still remained as to what would happen if the mother were the one who tried to psychologically harm the father through the children. This provoking discussion was brought to light again on October 31, 2022, when Olivia, a 6-year-old girl, lost her life after ingesting barbiturates given to her by her own mother, who had also taken pills. The parents of the little girl had gone through a complex separation process, which from the father´s perspective characterized years of struggling to obtain custody of the child. However finally after a lengthy process of five years, the father succeeded in winning all of the lawsuits against the mother and thereby gained custody of Olivia.

The debate is here; Should mothers and fathers be prosecuted equally under intrafamilial violence law when they kill their children to physiologically harm the other parent?

Written by Alba Carralón. (Photo by Wellness and Health).


How a lack of legislation is perpetuating the epidemic of Honour Killings in India

Honour killings in India have been a topic of relevance for countless of years, with UN data showing that one in five cases of honour killings internationally every year come from India and the Union Minister of state home affairs claiming that as many as “145 incidents of honour killings took place in India between 2017 and 2019”. Honour killings, also known as customary killings, have been practised since the time of ancient Romans when the pater familias, head of the family, retained the right to kill an unmarried but sexually active daughter or an adulterous wife. However, the general definition of an honour killing is seen as “the killing of a relative, especially a female relative, as retribution for the perceived dishonouring of the family, as dictated or sanctioned by some cultures and religions”. Currently, there is no specific legislation or provision which tackles the issue of such crimes in India, with the Indian Penal Code claiming that current laws outlined in section 300 are adequate enough to deal with overt acts of killing or causing bodily harm. The government does not believe that a difference in motive can justify an introduction of a separate provision but seeing current trends there is disagreement about such claims. Whilst an attempt was made in 2012 by the law commission of India in which they recommended a bill for tackling the issue of honour killings, it was unfortunately never taken up and only in 2014 did the National Crime Record Bureau of India begin to classify honour killings separately from cases of murder. The patchwork application of current laws fail to address the primary underlying motives for these killings, this being honour, and thus decreases acceptance and awareness that such crimes are being committed in many communities across India.

Moreover, there is a general acceptance of the act of honour killings in societies as specific communities see it as the only way to restore honour, an element extremely important to families and communities, as well as the Khap Panchayat, proclaimed leaders of caste courts in villages, often praising such practices. It is significant to consider that it is more important to protect individual rights of freedom of choice than certain cultural or religious practices that target and endanger specific genders and perpetuate violence. It is not that the law permits murder under the justification that it is done so in honour, it is that the law has no provision which acknowledges the crime of honour killings and that lack of acknowledgement allows the practice to continue on and be normalised by certain communities. It is necessary to generate conversation about the existence of this crime and its effects on countless individuals, and it begins with the implementation of the proposed legislation.

Written by Iona Steger (Photo by Six- Two)


1) Deshpande, Avanti (2022). “Addressing 'Honour Killings' in India: The Need for New Legislation.” OHRH,,honour%20killings%20in%20the%20country.

2) Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA). Statistics. [Online] Available from:

3) Government of Canada, Department of Justice. “Preliminary Examination of so-Called ‘Honour Killings’ in Canada.” Historical Context - Origins of Honour Killing - Preliminary Examination of so-Called Honour Killings in Canada, 8 Dec. 2021,

Turkey’s new legislation, a path towards censorship.

Article 29, amended and passed on the 13th of October, will permit prison sentences from 1 to 3 years for any individual who “disseminates false information about the country’s domestic and foreign security, public order and general health, with the sole aim of creating anxiety, fear or panic among the public and in a manner that is liable to disturb public peace”.

Whilst the intention of the new legislation is to stamp out disinformation, many are fearful that such a vague and arbitrary law could be used against them. The recent amendments will also require social media companies to hand over personal details of users who are suspected of spreading any apparent ‘fake news’. With a feeling of necessity to comply with such regulations in order to continue to operate in Turkey, companies complying with the new rules may end up potentially supporting the Turkish authorities with their aims of cracking down on any perceived disinformation. Mahir Unal, the senior lawmaker from Erdogan's justice and development party, has defended the legislation in parliament claiming that it will not target free expression or criticism that “does not exceed the limits''. However, the extent of this statement is questioned by many human rights organisations with data from Freedom House rating Turkey as ‘not free’ on freedom in the World Index and raising concerns about the application of this legislation outside parliament. The Venice Commission has also made a statement asking the Turkish government not to enact the legislation under ‘serious doubts about the need to criminalise disinformation in such a way. This new legislation could become a slippery slope to censorship as Turkey prepares for the upcoming elections and is a violation of a fundamental human right under Article 19 of the UDHR.

Written by Iona Steger (Photo by Human Rights Watch  )




How Iran’s hijab law is being taken advantage of by those in positions of authority.

Throughout most of Iran’s history there has been constant division regarding the obligatory use of Hijabs which was introduced after the Islamic revolution of 1979 and enforced in 1983. However, in recent months the uproar has become louder after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old who was killed whilst in police custody for violating rules on wearing hijab in public.Chapter 18, article 638 of the Iranian Penal Code states that “anyone who explicitly violates any religious taboo in public beside being punished for the act should also be imprisoned from ten days to two months, or should be flogged (74 lashes)” with a note beneath stating “women who appear in public without a proper hijab should be imprisoned from ten days to two months or pay a fine [...]”. The term hijab originates from Arabic and means cover but it has been used to refer to different types of covering since the 1970s from long sleeve coats, pants and scarfs to the Islamic government's preference of the form of dress chador (a loose fitting black cloth which covers the entire body). Such crimes of ‘bad hijabi’ or ‘improper hijab’ drawn from the note are not defined by the law clearly and such law is very loosely drawn. This gives enforcers such as the morality police the power to interpret the meaning of this in their own ways and decide how to crack down on women in various manners. In some cases the role of interpretation is important for law as it can offer alternatives as well as protect individuals, however, in the case of Iran’s law on the ‘violation of any religious taboo’ it is a danger that such law lacks specificity and clarity as explored above. It is unclear whether any amendments will be made since the vagueness of this law gives leeway for those in positions of power to retain it and apply it in ways they see fit whilst limiting the power of citizens to challenge the law.

Written by Iona Steger (Photo by MSNBC).


(1) Sahar Maranlou Lecturer.“Hijab Law in Iran over the Decades: The Continuing Battle for Reform.” The Conversation, 7 Oct. 2022,

(2) Shelton, Tracey. “Iran Is Not the Only Country with Strict Dress Codes, Some of the Others May Surprise You.” ABC News, ABC News, 2 Oct. 2022,

(3) Iranian Penal Code - Refworld.

The rise in Federal Criminal Courts treating war crimes.

Alieu Kosiah was a ULIMO faction general of Liberian nationality who was accused of having committed war crimes during the first Liberian civil war. This case brought worldwide attention since it was the first time for one, a Liberian national was tried for war crimes in relation to the Liberian civil wars, and secondly, for an individual to be sentenced for war crimes by a Federal Criminal Court, this court being in Bellinzona, Switzerland. This case is one of the few examples of the way states can utilise their jurisdictions in order to sentence individuals guilty of crimes not related to their own state and furthermore provide justice to the victims who suffered war crimes over 30 years ago.

To read more on this case click here.   (Photo by

Written by Iona Steger.