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General News of Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Source: National Cyber Security Centre

First Model Child Protection Digital Forensic Lab inaugurated

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Ghana, in collaboration with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has launched Ghana’s first Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory.

The fully equipped Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory which seeks to protect children from pernicious acts of online abuse, exploitation and violence is the first of its kind in Western and Central Africa.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony held on Thursday August 27 at the Police Headquarters in Accra, Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Representative of UNICEF Ghana, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital platforms to support children’s learning, socialization and play.

According to her, despite the enormous benefits derived from the use of the internet by children, it has also made it easier for online predators to access, groom, abuse and exploit children and young adults.

“Children face new risks, such as online child sexual exploitation and abuse, bullying or sextortion. The latter is a practice of extorting money or sexual favors from someone by threatening to reveal evidence of their (sexual) activity.”

Madam Dufay, said reports related to child sexual abuse material being accessed, distributed or produced increased from 750 to 7,000 between 2016 to 2019 respectively in Ghana.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, National Cybersecurity Advisor who represented the Minister of Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the newly established lab has come at a very opportune time.

“This new infrastructure will greatly aid with incident reporting and will augment the work being done by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), as it continues to resolve numerous cybercrime and cybersecurity incidents reported via the Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC).”

Dr. Antwi-Boasiako revealed that, the Ministry of Communications through the NCSC and various key stakeholders including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, UNICEF-Ghana, Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service, has revised the existing National Child Online Protection (COP) Framework to incorporate the newly launched 2020 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) COP Guidelines.

Hon. Ambrose Dery, Minister for Interior, opined that the effective functioning of the laboratory will be realized if key stakeholders provide their support to the Cybercrime Unite.

He further expressed gratitude to UNICEF for their constant support towards children in the country.

Commissioner of Police (COP) Isaac Ken Yeboah, Director General, CID, said the Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory will support the cybercrime unite of the Ghana Police Service to combat the upsurge in cybercrime cases, stressing, that the unite currently have difficulty adducing evidence to support prosecution processes.

“About forty (40) indecent images of children are uploaded in the surface web every week from Ghana which consolidate the real need for digital forensic laboratory. The laboratory will enhance the investigation of offences against children on the internet with particular reference to indecent image abuse and extortion to ensure that children are protected from harm and crime.”

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