Ghana Police Service Authorities, backed by partners including UNICEF, the Ministry of Communication and Ministry of Interior, have commissioned a new Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory in Accra, the country’s capital city.
The new Child Protection digital forensic laboratory is the first to be launched in West Africa and the entire Sub Saharan Africa at large. The laboratory has been put in place to avert and counter the online abuse, trafficking and exploitation of children by criminal entities.
The Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, Ken Yeboah, a Commissioner of Police stated that the laboratory will strengthen the investigation capabilities of the Ghana police force against criminal acts of abuse and violence against children on the internet.
“This Laboratory is also unique because it has an open-source intelligence laboratory for cyber patrol and intelligence gathering online, to assist the investigation and intelligence gathering,” he said.
Child Trafficking Cases in Africa
Children are often victims of child trafficking across Africa, from being sold into prostitution and forced labour, as sex slaves, domestic servants, or coerced into other social vices. A study compiled by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that children between 12 and 16 are the main victims of human trafficking across Africa, especially girls.
According to the study, all of Africa’s 53 nations reported cases of child trafficking brought about largely by the extreme poverty, insurgency, and economic instability in the continent.
In Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, girls under 8 years old have been sold as child brides for their “purity.” Several hundreds of Chibok girls in Northern Nigeria have also been abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Predators are now using the internet to perpetrate such nefarious crimes against children in various African states.
Online predators have taken advantage of the current exponential increase in the use of mobile phones and the internet in Ghana, to access, groom, abuse, and exploit girls and boys.Anne-Claire Dufay, Unicef Deputy Representative
Working with Interpol
The Ghana Police Service has stated that it expects to be linked with Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation database through its digital forensic laboratory unit.
By connecting to Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) image and video database, the Ghana Police Force will be able to share data on cases of child sexual abuse in the country.
The ICSE database is an intelligence and investigative tool that will grant the Ghana Police Service extensive leverage as it works to end cybercriminal cases of abuse, bullying and extortion against children. It will also enhance its child online protection and help facilitate international police cooperation and crime control.
More African countries will be looking to follow Ghana’s footsteps in their efforts to beef up their security against children cybercrimes.
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