A two-day workshop on Countering Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse kicked off, on Wednesday morning, at the Intercontinental Hotel Balaclava, in presence of the Attorney-General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU), Mr Vincent Degert, and other personalities.
The event is an initiative of the Attorney General’s Office of Mauritius in collaboration with the Council of Europe projects, namely GLACY+ (Global Action on Cybercrime) and Octopus. Around 50 participants from law enforcement agencies, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Mauritius Police Force, and the Computer Emergency Response Team of Mauritius are attending the workshop which will be facilitated by four experts from the Council.
GLACY is a joint project of the EU and the Council of Europe to support countries worldwide in the implementation of the Budapest Convention. As for Octopus, it is based on voluntary contributions from States, parties and observers to the Convention on Cybercrime and other public and private sector organisations, aiming to support the implementation of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, its Protocols and related standards.
In his keynote address, Minister Gobin observed that despite the presence of necessary legislations and laws, the number of cases relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation have increased over the years to become a matter of global concern. He indicated that the use of new technologies, internet and mobile phones allow sexual offenders to get easy access to children’s space online through social media platforms, and online games. “Technology will be there but the efforts that we have to put have to be very focused and clear”, he said, adding that “we need to track down and prosecute offenders”.
To this end, Minister Gobin stated that a new software will be deployed to track offenders with electronic evidence and facilitate access to data for further actions. He highlighted the need to have such capacity-building programmes that will enhance the expertise of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.
He expressed gratitude to the EU and the United States Embassy for providing Mauritius with technical support and expertise to combat online exploitation and child abuse.
For his part, Ambassador Degert spoke of the vulnerability of children on online spaces while stating that it is an obligation to protect all children and safeguard their rights. “We have to be prepared as cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse continue to grow with new technologies”, he said.
He highlighted the relevance of prevention, education and awareness adding that it is important to come up with stronger protection and severe prosecution. “We must define a robust and comprehensive legal framework to counteract child abuse and exploitation”, he stressed.