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ECONOMYNEXT – An international reporting portal for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) was launched in Sri Lanka jointly by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), Save the Children and ChildFund Sri Lanka.

“The IWF reporting portal will play a crucial role in reporting and taking down online child sexual abuse imagery for countries that do not currently have this facility,” Save the Children said in a statement.

Each report processed by the reporting portal will be manually assessed by IWF highly trained analysts using technical internet tracing techniques to locate criminal content, to trace and determine the geographical location of the server on which the content is hosted at the time of assessment.

They report it the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) who then forward it to INTERPOL, so they can pass it on to the hosting country’s police. They continue to monitor the status of these images and, if required, they will contact the overseas host directly to remove the online images.

The reporting portal is available in Sinhala, Tamil, and English, and is hosted by the NCPA through their homepage.

Online violence against children has risen over the past decade in the country. Research by Save the Children indicates that 3 out of 10 children who are internet users in urban and semi urban areas in Sri Lanka are being victimized by online perpetrators.

The NCPA noted growing trends of illegal activities against children online such as luring children for sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sextortion, and threats leading to blackmail.

However, due to a lack of technological infrastructure and technical expertise to support, Sri Lanka has faced challenges in removing CSAM from the internet. This calls for international collaboration to effectively address these crimes.

“Together with the Government, private sector, and through international collaboration, we are committed to making Sri Lanka a safer place for children,” Save the Children’s Senior Technical Advisor, Child Protection and Child Rights, Buddhini Withana said.

“For several decades, this sector has been neglected. The government has indeed neglected it, and the attention it warranted has not been provided,” President Ranil Wickremasinghe said at the launch at the Presidential Secretariat.

“The magnitude of the problem now is such that resolving it within a year seems implausible. We lack the capacity to address the issue comprehensively.”

Wickremasinghe said strengthening police numbers, particularly in women and children’s desks at every police station, was necessary.

“The management of probation and child care services should be devolved to the nine provinces, as I believe this responsibility does not necessarily belong to the central government.” (Colombo/Mar29/2024)

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