Ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Meeting of Heads of Government in London, Belize joins the Internet Watch Foundation Reporting Portals network tackling online child sexual abuse imagery.
Today 13 April 2018, Belize will make history by becoming 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 new system for Belize means that the public will be able to report suspected illegal content anonymously to one of the world’s leading hotlines, the IWF.
The reporting website, known as a Reporting Portal, supports the country’s determination to tackle child sexual abuse imagery online. It is announced as other measures are being taken in Belize to protect children online and offline. Amongst them are the Jasmine Alert, an emergency warning system for children kidnappings, used by several stakeholders to rapidly inform the public domain of the disappearance of a minor.
Belize has become the twentieth Commonwealth member to launch an IWF Portal. And this is happening as Commonwealth Heads of Government are due to gather in London for their 2018 meeting (16-20 April). By adopting an IWF Reporting Portal, Belize joins the host of countries showing their commitment to work ‘Towards a common future’, which is the theme of this year’s summit. The IWF provides a customized Reporting Portal, which is a simple web-based form. This is a safe and anonymous way for citizens to send suspected online reports of child sexual abuse material directly to the IWF expert analysts, who then assess the reports and if applicable, have the content removed.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting will look at ways of building on the strengths of the Commonwealth, to ensure this organization is responsive to global challenges and delivers a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for all its citizens, particularly young people. The Reporting Portals of the IWF are also driven by these goals, offering all citizens around the world a secure place to report online child sexual abuse imagery, making the internet a safer place for everyone.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO, 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. It takes a global effort to make this happen, and we’re very grateful to Belize for implementing the Reporting Portal to help protect children. We’re also thrilled to be working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). We know that we can achieve more together through international partnerships.”
The IWF first started discussions with the Belize Police Department following their participation in the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police event in 2016. This coincided with the IWF Portals being launched in six other Caribbean Commonwealth territories in the same year.
On behalf of the Belize Police Commissioner, the Manager of the Police Internet Technology Unit (PITU) Mr. Mario Alcoser, said: "The Reporting 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. The Belize Police Department has collaborated with the IWF to open this Portal, so that everyone can access, and henceforth, report online sexual abuse of children. 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 the UNODC.
Neil Walsh, UNODC Chief of Cybercrime, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism, 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 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. 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 and the dedication of the Internet Watch Foundation. Technology can facilitate crime, but it’s also a part of the solution.”