Press Release

International Experts Meet in El Salvador to Combat Online Abuse and Exploitation in Latin America

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – This week, child protection specialists from Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico are meeting in San Salvador to highlight the need for increased efforts in the fight against online child sexual abuse and exploitation, a growing phenomenon throughout Latin America in recent years.

Today marks the first day of the Regional Congress, Together for a Protected Childhood: Combating Technology-Facilitated Child Sexual Abuse. Topics of focus include how children and adolescents interact with information and communication technologies (ICTs), offender profiles, reporting mechanisms for child sexual abuse and exploitation, and the importance of contemplating ICTs in national policies. The two-day Regional Congress will be followed by a Regional Training for justice sector professionals.

The events are being organized by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), with the financial support of the United Kingdom’s #WePROTECT Children Online global initiative. The purpose of the events is to share best practices and perspectives in the area of child protection online; review the current regional context; and train key actors responsible for prevention, investigation, prosecution, adjudication, and provision of comprehensive care.

The Regional Congress was opened by representatives of ICMEC, UNODC, and UNICEF, as well as His Excellency Bernhard Garside, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to El Salvador, and Óscar Ortiz, Vice President of El Salvador. During the opening ceremony, child protection experts highlighted the importance of implementing public policies and national and international legal frameworks for prosecuting and sanctioning every form of violence, abuse and exploitation against children and adolescents, including in cyberspace. Also stressed was the importance of multiagency coordination in order to provide a more effective response for children and adolescents when ICT-enabled crimes have been committed.

On Tuesday, participants will discuss bolstering the efforts of the Latin American Coalition Against Technology-Facilitated Child Sexual Abuse, a group that promotes awareness; strengthens prevention initiatives; encourages private sector participation; and provides technical assistance to prosecutors, police officers, and judges. This Coalition also works to provide country-specific recommendations for action, and to fortify – and consolidate – the regional response to the issues.

Online child sexual abuse, exploitation and violence have increased in every country in the region in conjunction with growing access to ICTs. Notwithstanding that the Internet is a fundamental tool for human development, its misuse can be an instrument for threating and violating the rights of children and adolescents. Lack of knowledge about conduct, prevention tools, investigation, and care for victims can lead to perpetrators going unpunished, and children and adolescents not getting the services they need.

The Regional Congress continues through Tuesday, followed by a three-day Regional Training for law enforcement, investigators, prosecutors, and judges on effective prosecution and adjudication of ICT facilitated crimes against children.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN

The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization working to make the world a safer place for all children by eradicating child abduction, sexual abuse exploitation through advocacy, training and collaboration with global partners. For more information on ICMEC and its work, visit: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, www.icmec.org, or contact Ms. Pilar Ramírez, Legal Advisor and Program Coordinator for Latin America at ICMEC: PRamriez@icmec.org.

ABOUT UNICEF

At UNICEF we promote the rights and well-being of all children and adolescents in everything we do. Together with our allies, we work in 190 countries and territories to transform this cooperation into practical actions that benefit children and adolescents, with a special focus on reaching the world’s most vulnerable and excluded. For more information on UNICEF and its work, visit: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.unicef.org/elsalvador, or contact Ms. Irene Sánchez, Communications Specialist for UNICEF El Salvador: isanchez@unicef.org.

ABOUT UNODC

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is the organization mandated to safeguard the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations conventions on narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances. UNODC programmes are based on 3 work pillars: technical assistance projects, research and analysis for public policy and operative decisions, and normative assistance. For more information on UNODC and its work, visit: www.unodc.org/ropan/es/, or contact Ms. Nayelly Loya, Deputy Chief of UNODC Programme Office for El Salvador: bertha.loya@unodc.org.