Kenya launches portal to curb child sexual abuse

Online Portal

The project allows internet users wherever they are to report images or videos of child sexual abuse.

Photo credit: Pool

Internet users across Kenya will from now on have the opportunity to safely and anonymously report criminal images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse through a dedicated online portal.

The portal launched Wednesday by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) aims to protect victims of child sexual abuse from suffering emotional distress when horrific imagery is shared online.

Kenya is now the 44th country globally and 22nd in Africa to partner with the foundation that works closely with but independently from law enforcement agencies in pulling down online materials and content that expose children to sexual exploitation.

Once reported through the new portal, images and videos will be assessed by trained IWF analysts in the UK and if they are found to contain child sexual abuse, they can be blocked and removed from the internet.

Ms Mueni Mutisya, who is the head of Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU), said that child online protection is a shared responsibility.

“Once cases of online sexual abuse on children are reported at our offices or anonymously through the DCI hotline, and a link to any website authoring such content is shared, this portal will enable us to expedite the process of pulling down the unsuitable materials before they cause more damage to our children,” she said.

While commending the DCI and IWF for the bold move, Lady Justice Martha Koome highlighted the need for immediate action by pulling down of any online child exploitative content, citing the need for review of the way to go about receiving evidence and prosecuting children related cases.

“You do not require any court order to pull down any material that exposes a child to sexual exploitation and abuse, whether copyrighted or not. The judicial system prioritizes what is done in the best interest of the child,” she said.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO,  said the portal comes at an important moment in making the internet safer for the entire world. 

“This is a brilliant step forward, and we are so pleased to have been able to play our part in getting this portal up and running. All around the world, people are spending more time on the internet due, in part, to the coronavirus.

"This is a particularly important time to make sure child sexual abuse on the internet is called out, wherever it is being shared, and this portal will play a huge role in making sure this can be done safely.”

IWF portals are currently available in 17 languages (Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Kazakh, Lingala, Malaysian Bahasa, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian, Urdu, Wolof).