MANILA Two Swedes have been jailed for life in the Philippines for violating human trafficking laws by running a live Internet porn operation in a southern city that catered to foreigners.
The convictions were the first legal victory in the battle against foreign-operated porn operations in the Philippines, said Lalae Garcia of the Tubaga movement, a women and children rights group on the southern island of Mindanao.
"This is definitely a major victory for abused and exploited women," she told reporters after a court in Cagayan de Oro sentenced the Swedes and three Filipino accomplices.
Law enforcement agencies say cybersex, or providing sexually explicit material over the Internet, is a growing industry in many parts of the world, including in the Philippines, where there is perceived to be a low risk of arrest and high returns.
The court, in a May 6 judgment that was released on Tuesday, also fined the Swedes, Emil Andreas Solemo and Bo Stefan Sederholm, 2 million pesos ($46,500) each. The three Filipinos were jailed for 20 years and fined 1 million pesos each.
"Disrespect for Filipino women and violations of our laws deserve the strongest condemnation from this court," read part of the 25-page court decision.
Justo Yap, National Bureau of Investigation regional director, said 18 women, aged 19 to 24, some of whom were naked and sending live feeds to clients abroad, were rescued after a raid on a premises in April 2009.
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by John Mair and Nick Macfie)