By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
Today the High Commissioner for Zambia in the UK will make history by announcing a new system for anonymously reporting online child sexual abuse images and videos in Zambia, in partnership with the international charity, the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) and Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).
To mark this momentous occasion, the Zambia High Commission in London is hosting an event, to celebrate with foreign Ambassadors, international organisations working in child protection and members of the internet industry, the benefits of working in partnership to effectively fight against this borderless crime. Zambia’s Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) will join the celebration by hosting a special parallel event in Lusaka.
Zambia’s government has taken this important step to ensure the removal of child sexual abuse images from the country’s internet, by launching this new system for the public to report illegal online images and videos of child sexual abuse anonymously with the IWF, and ZICTA.
The IWF Reporting Portal is a web-based mechanism that will allow citizens to report child sexual abuse imagery they may stumble across online anonymously.
The system will help protect Zambia’s online community and prevent child victims of this disturbing crime from the mental torture of knowing images of their abuse could be shared online.
Top internet providers from Zambia have backed the move, following a meeting in November 2017, where the biggest players in the industry – MTN, AirTel, and ZAMTEL, committed their full support to cracking down on illegal images of children.
The IWF, a world leader in identifying and removing online child sexual abuse imagery from the internet, runs the network ofreporting mechanisms, known as IWF Reporting Portals, from its headquarters in Cambridge. Portals offer countries around the world a place to safely report disturbing material to IWF’s expert Analysts, who then assess each report individually and have any illegal imagery removed from the internet.
Zambia becomes the 24th IWF international Portal and the sixth country to benefit from a prestigious international grant awarded by the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children, which is dedicated to funding the implementation of Portals in 30 countries across the world. By the end of 2020, the total number of IWF Reporting Portals will be 48. Because of this programme of activity, the IWF’s work in sub-Sahara Africa has been stepped up, with more countries adopting IWF Reporting Portals than ever before. Nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have taken the lead, with Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Namibia all having launched their own IWF Portals since 2017.
From today, if a Zambian internet user stumbles across child sexual abuse images or videos, they can report them through the Zambian IWF Reporting Portal at https://report.iwf.org.uk/zm. Any reports made will feed back through to the IWF’s Hotline operation in the UK, where Analysts will assess whether the content meets the legal threshold for child sexual abuse imagery.
His Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde, High Commissioner for the Republic of Zambia to the United Kingdom, said “Online child exploitation is an abhorrent vice that has to be fought by all stakeholders and the Zambian Government led by His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is committed to ensuring that every child is protected. No single government or organisation can wrestle the problem alone, we need to work together and this portal is an example of what can be achieved with a network of partnership”.
Patrick M. Mutimushi, ZICTA Director General, said: “ZICTA will remain committed to ensuring that we build a secured and safe environment for our children and young people to access the cyber world. We are thankful to our partner, the IWF, for the Reporting Portal which is cardinal in the fight against child sexual abuse on the internet and will reinforce the nation’s ability to mitigate online risks against children. This launch is an achievement of both the Authority and all stakeholders in the country that have joined the global fight against child online sexual abuse. This symbolises our commitment to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 which aims to end all forms of violence by 2030.”
Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, said: “It’s a great privilege to be able to announce the IWF Reporting Portal in Zambia. Child sexual abuse is a global problem. It does not respect countries borders or laws. The only effective way to fight this horrific abuse is through strong, committed partnerships and a truly global approach. So, I’m thrilled to see Zambia joining us on our mission to end online child sexual abuse.
“This is an historic event. With over 20 percentof individuals in Zambia now using the Internet, there is no better time to make sure citizens are protected. As well as all the organisations in Zambia who helped make this possible, I’d also like to thank his Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde and the Zambia High Commission in London. I am also grateful to ZICTA in Zambia, for helping organise the dual launch events and showing their commitment to help put an end on child sexual abuse material online. We hope citizens of Zambia will feel confident, so if they do stumble across child sexual abuse on the internet, they will know they have somewhere safe and secure to report it.
“Just one report to our Analysts can help us remove anywhere from one to a thousand disturbing, illegal images of children. Every single report we receive is vital to us. It could even lead to the identification and rescue of a child from the most horrific sexual abuse.”
Jenny Thornton, IWF International Development Manager, said: “It is wonderful to be working in Zambia with local law enforcement agencies, children’s rights organisations, internet service providers and the government, all of which are dedicated to tackling the global problem of child sexual abuse imagery online. “We hope that the IWF Reporting Portal in Zambia will help to protect internet users in the country, as well as victims worldwide.”To access the new portal and report child sexual abuse imagery online, go to https://report.iwf.org.uk/zm. The process can be completely anonymous and takes only seconds.