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Date: February 22, 2008

Child Rights Group Helps Fight Online Child Exploitation

As more and more developing countries gain access to the Internet, the availability of online child pornography and abuse of children expands as well. Approximately 20 per cent of all Internet pornography involves children, and law enforcement agencies in developing countries are especially hard-pressed to combat online exploitation with its links to sex tourism and child trafficking.

A new international partnership that combines Canadian leadership in child rights protection, law enforcement and international development with the software expertise of Microsoft will assist agencies in developing countries to fight online child exploitation.

The Child Protection Partnership (CPP), announced today in Toronto and overseen by the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD) at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies, will ensure that children’s rights remain at the forefront.

“Online child exploitation has no boundaries,” says Suzanne Williams, IICRD deputy and legal director. “Through this partnership, law enforcement and supporting sectors in developing countries will have better tools to mount an effective fight against this criminal activity, share in the latest knowledge gained from around the world, and become part of a multi-stakeholder collaboration that protects the rights and dignity of vulnerable children.”

The CPP program will incorporate Microsoft’s Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS), an online tool that allows police agencies to share and analyse information for tracking child exploitation on the Internet. CETS was launched in 2005 by the Toronto Police Service and Microsoft has invested $9 million in the program, expanding it to seven countries including the UK, Chile and Italy.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has committed $2.5 million to fund CPP and participate on the program’s steering committee along with the IICRD, UNICEF, the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre and Microsoft.

Over the next three years, CPP will draw on IICRD’s human-rights based approach to development to equip the law enforcement sector and other supporting services in developing countries to combat online child exploitation. The program will assist policy-makers at all levels to enforce human rights legislation and the rule of law as well as increase children and their families’ access to services and legal protection.
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Media contacts:
Suzanne Williams (IICRD) at cell 250-507-6970 or swiicrd@uvic.ca
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca

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