‘Unprecedented collaboration’ will help fight against online child sexual abuse

Published:  Thu 30 Jan 2020

An “unprecedented collaboration” between a UK charity and the government of Sierra Leone will help fight against the sexual exploitation of children on the internet, experts say. 

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the UK-based charity responsible for finding and removing child sexual abuse material from the internet, has today (January 30) launched a new reporting portal in Sierra Leone.

The portal, set up with local partners Defence for Children International Sierra Leone, and End Violence Against Children, will allow people in the country to report child sexual abuse material should they stumble across it online.

Once reported, the material will be assessed by IWF analysts in the UK and, if it is found to contain images or videos of child sexual abuse, it will be removed.

Mohamed Rahman Swaray, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communications, said the portal is a big step forward for the country.

He said: “Introducing the IWF's Portal programme in Sierra Leone is among the fulfilments of the government of Sierra Leone in combating child sexual crimes.”

Mr Swaray said Sierra Leone’s President Dr. Julius Maada Bio “applauds” the launch, saying it is an “unprecedented collaboration in our preparedness to end internet sexual and other crimes against children.”

IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves OBE said the move is another step towards halting the increase of child sexual abuse material available online.

Ms Hargreaves said: “The scale of the problem we are seeing demands a global response, and this new portal in Sierra Leone marks an important step in ridding the internet of this evil material and keeping children safe.

“Our analysts are removing more and more images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet every year, and the international portals have an important role in helping us do this.

“They are a safe place where people can anonymously report criminal material if they stumble across it online.

“We are very proud to be helping tackle this problem, and taking action wherever this content is being reported in the world.”

Dr Howard Taylor, Executive Director of End Violence Against Children said: “A key part of tackling online child sexual abuse is to remove images and videos of such abuse. 

“To get this removed, it needs to be as easy as possible for the public to report child sexual abuse material."  

He added: “For the End Violence Fund, financing this and other IWF portals worldwide is an important part of our commitment to this fight to prevent and respond to online child sexual abuse material in Sierra Leone and globally.”

The portal is the 30th IWF Portal, and the 14th in Africa. It is the 12th Global Fund Portal to launch.

Sierra Leonean citizens must not hesitate to report child sexual abuse images to the Portal at https://report.iwf.org.uk/sl

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