PHILJA Holds Focus Group Discussions on Cybercrime and the LGBT Sector
The following focus group discussions were held in partnership with the US Department of Justice – Criminal Division, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT).
Focus Group Discussion on Problem Areas in Handling Cybercrime Cases
On August 29, 2012, the PHILJA conducted a Focus Group Discussion on Problem Areas in Handling Cybercrime Cases to gather information on various existing problem areas. Nine selected judges with experience in handling cybercrime cases involving electronic evidence participated in the activity.
During the discussions, the three groups of participants tackled the topics: Computers, the Internet, and Digital Information; Cybercrime – Laws, Rules and Jurisprudence; and Electronic Evidence – Preservation, Collection, Validation, Identification, Analysis, Interpretation and Presentation. The discussions gave them the opportunity to freely express their concerns and problems that require immediate training. Their output was a proposed module for the planned seminar-workshop on Combating Cybercrimes in the Philippines that will cover an overview of cybercrime in the Philippines; the use of basic computer, software, hardware and the worldwide web; the use of cyber technology in evidence presentation; and a workshop.
Republic Act No. 10175, known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, was passed by the House of Representatives and by the Senate on June 4, 2012 and on June 5, 2012, respectively, and signed into law by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III on September 12, 2012.
Focus Group Discussion on the LGBT Sector
The Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) conducted a focus group discussion on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) sector on August 31, 2012. The information-gathering activity was attended by 11 participants composed of selected judges, court personnel, and representatives of NGOs dealing with the LGBT sector.
Mr. Thomas Carnegie, Rule of Law Unit Chief of the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy, delivered a message on behalf of the U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas. In his message, he remarked that in rule of law-based societies, such as the Philippines and the U.S., it is often the judges who, having a special role in interpreting and applying the law fairly to all Filipinos, show special leadership in addressing and protecting the rights of minorities. Thus, the outputs of the activity will serve as a basis for the curriculum of awareness enhancement trainings on the LGBT for judges.
The discussions focused on three major topics – Rights of the LGBTs, LGBT and Legislation, and LGBT and the Courts. The discussions resulted in a framework of topics and discussions for the planned Awareness Enhancement Trainings, which hope to provide LGBTs with access to justice at all stages, from inception to execution. The participating organizations pledged to help in the crafting of training by providing PHILJA with reference materials, particularly jurisprudence from other jurisdictions, to guide judges in decision making; in the filing of cases to develop jurisprudence on LGBT; and in providing PHILJA with a position paper and a compilation of local ordinances involving the LGBT sector, among others.