UNICEF and INTERPOL in cooperation agreement to address child sexual exploitation and abuse

Children’s charity UNICEF and Interpol, the world’s largest international police organisation, have signed an agreement to support national governments in preventing and addressing online child sexual exploitation, abuse and other child protection issues.

Under the new agreement, the two organisations will work closely together to support national law enforcement agencies across the world in improving how countries respond to sexual exploitation and abuse crimes against children. This will include:

  • Supporting the establishment of specialist units or teams to investigate online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and strengthening the effectiveness of such teams where they already exist.
  • Advancing training and systematic professional development so that law enforcement personnel have up-to-date knowledge and skills in victim and offender identification, digital forensics for online child sexual exploitation and abuse, child-friendly and survivor-centered interviewing, and use of the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database.
  • Promoting and facilitating better linkages between law enforcement and social services and other victim service providers to ensure that victims and survivors receive coordinated and multi-disciplinary support throughout the criminal justice process and beyond to support their holistic recovery.

Every day, investigators around the world carry out ‘painstaking and heroic work’ to identify victims and the perpetrators of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, said Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL, extended. Tackling the issue, he added, ‘extends beyond law enforcement’.

“This agreement is an acknowledgement that safeguarding children takes all of us – UNICEF plays a crucial role in child protection globally,” he said. “Through closer cooperation, their knowledge and resources will help improve law enforcement activities on the ground.”

Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, added: “Child sexual abuse and exploitation is a global scourge. Collaboration across sectors and across borders is key to addressing this problem. Working with INTERPOL will help us bring law enforcement expertise to our country programs and strengthen protection measures for every child.”

‘Many countries lack the specialised staff’

UNICEF’s says that up to 20 per cent of internet-using children in 12 low- and middle-income countries said they have experienced online sexual exploitation or abuse in the previous year, while data from national hotlines and clearing houses suggest a proliferation of child sexual abuse content online in recent years

But while some countries have law enforcement units dedicated to child protection and victims, many lack the specialised staff, skills and resources needed to effectively investigate cases – especially those involving digital elements – conduct victim identification, and safeguard children. The new partnership aims to fill these critical capacity gaps and promote greater investment and coordinated action to ensure victims and survivors receive the support they require and perpetrators face justice.

The INTERPOL-UNICEF agreement seeks to leverage the global reach and specific strengths of each organisation to protect and improve the lives of children threatened by online exploitation and other forms of violence. INTERPOL’s global law enforcement networks span 195 member countries, while UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories, and through its child protection programmes, supports governments and partners to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, including in digital environments.

Author: Simon Weedy

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.