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A new Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory has been launched in Accra. The model digital forensic laboratory which is the first of its kind in the country and also within the Western and Central Africa Sub-Region is designed specifically to prevent and respond to criminal acts of online abuse, exploitation and violence against children.

Built by the Ghana Police Service with support from partners including UNICEF, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Communication, the first ever digital forensic unit is also expected to link the Ghana Police Service with Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation database.

Speaking at the event launch, the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako on behalf of the Minister of Communication noted that considering the significant progress being made in the area of child online protection, the Model Child Protection Digital Forensic Lab will serve as a great instrument in providing an integrated response in the fight against cybercrime, as issues of cybercrime/cybersecurity needs to be addressed using an extensive 360 approach.

According to him the new infrastructure will greatly aid with incident reporting and will augment the work being done by the NCSC as they continue to resolve numerous cybercrime/cybersecurity incidents reported via the cybercrime/cybersecurity Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC).

The Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, COP Ken Yeboah in his address reiterated that the laboratory will primarily enhance the investigation of offenses against children on the internet with particular reference to indecent image abuse and extortion to ensure that children are protected from harm and crime.

“This Laboratory is also unique because it has an open source intelligence laboratory for cyber patrol and intelligence gathering online, to assist investigation and intelligence gathering,” he stated.

UNICEF Representative, Anne-Claire Dufay in her remarks at the event also revealed how online predators have taken advantage of the current exponential increase in the use of mobile phones and the internet in Ghana, to access, groom, abuse, and exploit girls and boys.

She explained that the number of reports related to child sexual abuse material being accessed, distributed or produced from Ghana has been increasing rapidly over the past years from 750 in 2016 to 7,000 in 2019.

Ms. Dufay however described Ghana’s first fully equipped Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory as a game changer in protecting children from pernicious acts of online abuse, exploitation and violence and use the occasion to congratulate the Ghana Police Service, the Ministry of Interior, the Judiciary, the Ministry of Communications and all key actors for their continued collaboration to make sure that every child is safe on the internet.

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