16 April 2018 - Belize has become the most recent member to join the Internet Watch Foundation's (IWF) growing global Portals network by adopting a technical reporting solution for online child sexual abuse imagery. The Portal, supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will enable the public to report suspected illegal content anonymously.
Speaking about the portal, Neil Walsh, Chief of UNODC's Cybercrime, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism department, said: "The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is proud to partner with the Internet Watch Foundation to counter online child abuse in Belize through the launch of an online Reporting Portal. The combined impact of UNODC's relationships and the IWF's technology present a formidable response to a globally significant threat."
"The Portal will provide a dedicated means for the public to report child abuse material they've found online, have it removed, and help to safeguard highly vulnerable children," Mr. Walsh continued, adding that: "We're only able to do this thanks to funding from the Government of Norway, the skills of UNODC's cybercrime staff in Central America, the enthusiasm of the Government of Belize and the dedication of the Internet Watch Foundation. Technology can facilitate crime, but it's also a part of the solution."
The Portal supports Belize's determination to tackle child sexual abuse imagery online. It is announced in addition to other measures that are already being taken by the Government to protect children both online and offline. Amongst them are the Jasmine Alert, an emergency warning system for child kidnappings, used by several stakeholders to rapidly inform the public of the disappearance of a minor.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive Officer of IWF, said: "Our aim is to prevent the victims of child sexual abuse from being revictimised all over the world, as offenders view and share the disturbing images of their abuse over and over again."
She went on to emphasize that successful results require a global effort, whilst commending the Government of Belize for implementing the Portal to help protect children. "We're also thrilled to be working with UNODC. We know that we can achieve more together through international partnerships," she underlined.
On behalf of the Belize Police Commissioner, the Manager of the Police Internet Technology Unit (PITU) Mr. Mario Alcoser, said: "The Portal provides another approach, led by PITU, towards the fight against online predators who prey on the most vulnerable and the future of our country. A country can be assessed on how it protects its children and we believe we are on the right track."
The determination of PITU to install such a proactive and preventive mechanism was met with encouragement and sponsorship from UNODC.