Tunisia takes ‘major step’ in global fight against online child sexual abuse material

Published:  Thu 10 Jun 2021

Tunisia has taken a ‘major step’ in the global fight against child sexual abuse material as the launch of a new online tool will help remove and block illegal material from the internet.

A new reporting portal will allow people in Tunisia to safely, securely, and anonymously report instances of child sexual abuse material should they stumble across them on the internet. It can be accessed here: https://report.iwf.org.uk/tn.

The portal, which launches today (June 10) is the first of its kind in the country, and will play a significant role in halting the international spread of criminal videos and images of children suffering the worst kinds of sexual torture and rape.

The launch will be attended by Madame Imene Houimel, Minister of Women, Family and the Elderly, Mr Marcus Cornaro, EU Ambassador to Tunisia, Monsieur Chokri Maatoug, General Director for Childhood, Madame Pilar Morales, Acting Head of the Council of Europe Office in Tunisia, Monsieur Anthony Surleraux, de Child Safety Applied Sciences Manager at Google, among other important actors in the sphere of child safety and online security.

Funded by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, the portal has been set up by the UK-based charity the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in partnership with the Tunisian Ministère de la Femme, de la Famille et des Personnes Âgées (Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly) and the Council of Europe. UNICEF Tunisia and South Programme IV, a joint programme between the Council of Europe and the EU, are supporting the communication efforts to promote the portal on social media.

Tunisia is the first country outside of the states of the Council of Europe to have signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention).

The IWF is the international charity responsible for finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet.

Once reported through the new portal, images and videos will be assessed by trained IWF analysts in the UK.

If they are found to contain child sexual abuse, they can be blocked and removed from the internet.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The criminals who exploit innocent children don’t care about their victims’ suffering. But we know there are millions of good people, all around the world, who want to do the right thing and call this material out, wherever it is being shared.

“This new portal in Tunisia is a major step forward because it means there are now fewer places for these criminals to share these videos and images – all of which feature real children. Their suffering is real.

“With our partners in Tunisia, we can make sure this material is found and removed effectively, preventing the continued revictimisation of these children.”

Imen Zahwani Houime, Minister for Women, Family and the Elderly, said the new portal is key and that the Ministry “will ensure that it plays an important role to make Tunisia a safer, more protecting and secured place for children to be connected to the internet”, keeping in mind the “invasion of the digital and the increase of the average time used by children to be online.”

Chokri Maatoug, General director for Childhood, at the Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly, said: “The launch of the reporting portal fighting against images and videos of child sexual abuse in Tunisia will play an essential role to break the chain of silence around sexual violence on children and their dramatic consequences.”

Pilar Morales, Acting Chief of the Tunisia Office of the Council of Europe, said: “violence and sexual exploitation of children online are serious violations of their rights.

"The Council of Europe is delighted to support the setting up of a reporting portal in Tunisia to report these violations. This new mechanism will raise awareness and empower children and their parents, but also the whole of society.”

Howard Taylor, Director of the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has made tackling online risks and threats against children more urgent than ever.

“The Global Partnership to End Violence against Children is delighted to support the critical work of the Tunisian Ministry of Women, Family and the Elderly - in partnership with the Internet Watch Foundation and the Council of Europe - to launch a dedicated portal in Tunisia that harnesses cutting edge technology to report online videos and images of children being sexually abused.

 “The dedication of the Tunisian Government and partners resulted in the portal being launched in record time. Thanks to this effort, anyone in Tunisia can now anonymously report online sexual images or videos of children directly on the portal". 

Marcus Cornaro, Ambassador of the EU delegation in Tunisia, said: "Exposure to sexual violence seriously affects the physical, psychological and emotional development of the child. The coordination of our efforts to fight against this plague, by setting up tools such as this reporting portal, is this fundamental."

The portal in Tunisia is the 47th IWF Portal to launch. It is the 23rd to be set up in Africa, and the 29th Global Fund to End Violence Against Children sponsored Portal.

IWF Portals are available in countries all around the world in 17 languages (Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Kazakh, Lingala, Malaysian Bahasa, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, Urdu, Wolof).     

Images and videos of online child sexual abuse can be reported anonymously through the new portal at https://report.iwf.org.uk/tn. The Portal is available in French and Arabic.

 The public is given this advice when making a report:

  • Do report images and videos of child sexual abuse to the IWF to be removed. Reports to the IWF are anonymous.
  • Do provide the exact URL where child sexual abuse images are located.
  • Don’t report other harmful content – you can find details of other agencies to report to on the IWF’s website.
  • Do report to the police if you are concerned about a child’s welfare,
  • Do report only once for each web address – or URL. Repeat reporting of the same URL isn’t needed and wastes analysts’ time.
  • Do report non-photographic visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children, such as computer-generated images. Anything of this nature, which is also hosted in the UK, the IWF can get removed.
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