UNICEF’s first-ever national assessment on tackling child abuse online

10 September 2019
web_factor_2019
UNICEF/Albania

Tirana, 10 September 2019 - “WebFactor” is the first comprehensive assessment of its kind, commissioned by UNICEF in Albania. The report explores how the existing child protection framework and system tackle child abuse online.  

The report sheds light on the existing critical gaps in the national legislative framework and unveils variety of shortcomings that hinder effective prevention, identification and management of child abuse cases online. For example:

  • While the Albanian legislation at large conforms with all relevant international standards addressing sexual abuse of children, it is often fragmented and omits important definitions related to pornographic content involving children, their engagement and coercion into sex work and other indecent activities;
  • The Albanian legislation dealing with Internet Service Providers is vague in terms of vesting administrative authorities with blocking or removing competences. This prevents such authorities from clearly understanding their roles and having the mechanisms to exercise them.
  • Age of sexual consent, which is set in general at 14 years in Albania, is low according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Committee recommendation and would require re-consideration;
  • Definition of harmful materials is too general, leaving a large space to individual discretion.
  • Absence of clear definitions around children’s engagement in indecent and/or sexual activities makes it difficult to adequately categorize illegal materials;
  • No specific data is currently collected and published on child abuse online.
  • Neither the police nor prosecution are fully equipped with proper infrastructure and skills to effectively investigate child abuse cases online.
  • The Cybercrime unit reports a lack of possibility to perform active online surveillance, hampering their ability to start ex officio and proactive investigations.
  • Lack of rapid response by the Internet Service Providers to the prosecution’s requests, as well as difficulties in identifying the IP addresses of alleged offenders, alarmingly affects the quality and overall efficiency of investigation and, consequently, the possibility to hold perpetrators accountable.
  • None of the Child Protection Units reached through the present assessment have been supported to address cases of child abuse online.

These and many other important findings brought by the report will contribute to take proactive steps and address children’s protection both offline and online in Albania.

This publication has been prepared together with “Shapo Consulting”, in the framework of the project “Safer and Better Internet for Children in Albania”, supported by the Fund to End Violence against Children and is freely available in English (and soon also in Albanian) at https://www.unicef.org/albania/reports/webfactor

Media Contacts

Anila Miria

Communication Officer

UNICEF

Tel: +35569 20 29 021

Tel: +35569 20 24 185

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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