Combating online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Ghana
For every child, a safe online experience
30 October 2019 Accra: The Ghana Police Service signed a letter of agreement with UNICEF to pave the way for the setting up of Ghana’s first ever Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory (CP-DFL). The primary purpose of the Lab is to equip the Ghana Police Service with the tools to prevent and respond to cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, bullying, child trafficking, "sextortion", and "cyberstalking".
The forensic equipment, tools and training being provided will help the Ghana Police Service with investigation through the acquisition, analysis, and presentation of electronic evidence from digital devices and the internet in a way that makes its reliability and integrity stand the scrutiny of any judicial proceedings. This will help to boost the conviction rates and prosecutions involving the aforementioned online cases.
The Digital Forensic Laboratory will further enable Ghana Police Service to detect and investigate the cases of trafficking and kidnapping where digital devices have been used and particularly cause the removal of child sexual abuse image online. This facility will be first of its kind in the West and Central Africa region, and will link Ghana Police Service with Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation database.
Setting up of the lab is part of the GPS and UNICEF’s child friendly policing initiative started in 2014. Under that initiative, standard operating procedures to handle child victims, witnesses and offenders have been incorporated in the training programme at the regional and national police training schools. Over 3,000 police personnel from different cadres have received training under the initiative. Further, in-service training programmes have also been supported for the staff working with Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU).
While signing the letter of agreement, Mr. James Oppong Boanuh, Inspector General of Police said, “Electronic evidence processing has become topical for law enforcement worldwide because of admissibility issues and that providing the Ghana Police service with a digital forensic laboratory that has the children as it primary focus is best way to increase the number of convictions of causes related to child online cases.
At the signing, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay said, “Investigating and prosecuting child exploitation cases can be especially daunting because of the networks of perpetrators who are able to move seamlessly across virtual and physical borders around the world. But as technology continues to make our world a smaller place, these perpetrators are finding it harder to hide in the shadows. The establishment of the lab will go a long way in protecting children.”
UNICEF and Ghana Police Service thanked the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children for providing the funding support for this lab.
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.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.