Defence for Children International Liberia (DCI-L), a legally-oriented non-governmental organization involved with juvenile cases and protecting children against trafficking and abuses, has launched an internet portal for reporting sexual images that play on the psyche of children.
The launch, which was held at a resort in Monrovia on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, is the first reporting system on children issues in West Africa. It has been working in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Mauritius, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia.
According to Attorney Foday M. Kawah, the entity’s executive director, sexual images uploaded on the internet when accessed by children constitute abuse, and reporting such cases through the portal will enable the UK-based Internet Watch Forum (IWF) working with other African countries in preventing such abuses to access the information and delete them from whatever page that uploaded those images.
Besides physical violence perpetrated against children by many guardians and parents, according to Atty. Kawah, children are also sexually abused by allowing them to view nude photos that create psychosocial problems for their well-being.
The launch of the portal coincides with observance of Safer Internet Day, which Kawah said “marks a crackdown on online child sexual abuse images and videos which, supported by IWF, will work with Liberian citizens to drive child sexual abuse imagery off the web.”
“DCI-Liberia’s mandate promotes and protects the rights of children and serve as a watchdog on the government in order to ensure that it fulfills its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Liberian Children Law, including all international protocols under the convention that is in the best interest of children,” Kawah said.
Locally, GSM companies operating in Liberia and officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP), along with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), are supporting the venture.
Before the launch could conclude, LoneStar Cell MTN had begun propagating the message by sending it to its customers.
“The portal is funded by a grant awarded by the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children,” Kawah added.
He said exploring the portal to report a case does not compel one to disclose information about him/her, but could be anonymous.
The IWF was founded in 1996 and, according to Atty. Kawah, known child sexual abuse imagery hosted in the UK has plunged from 18 percent to less than 1 percent of the global total.
DCI-Liberia added that the work launched is a part of the WePROTECT Model National Response whereby governments and organizations in 2015 agreed to establish and deliver in their respective countries a coordinated national response to online child sexual exploitation.
At the launch, an expert of Information Technology (IT) gave a power point presentation, tutoring participants how to go about exploring the portal to make report about sexual images.
Patricia Wildermuth, senior Justice Advisor working with the Integrated Justice System, said her organization, being involved with judges and prosecution, supports the venture to bring down sexual images in order to protect children, because all children need protection.
A representative of LTA said the institution is in collaboration with the DCI in fighting cyber crime that involves sexual images displayed on the internet, and it is considering pursuing those involved with the act to face prosecution, because it constitutes a violation of the law.
The link for sending report about images of sexual abuse of children is, https://report.iwf.org.uk/lr.