This week, Europol’s EC3 brought together over 130 experts from close to 50 countries to discuss joint cooperation in combating online child sexual exploitation. The experts representing law enforcement authorities, the European Commission, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academia met for three days to discuss research activities, operational activities, preventive legislation and more.
The closed session on day one, for law enforcement only, was dedicated to discussions on current and future operations against online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Experts from the Netherlands, the US, Australia, South Africa, Belgium and Germany presented their operations, leading to discussions on for example how to jointly coordinate the operations and possible new initiatives to tackle the crime, as well as how to identify victims.
Day two focused on preventive legislation, and also saw presentations on child protection systems, academic research activities and Interpol presented their current projects. In addition, Europol presented a recent a Virtual Global Taskforce report detailing their latest activities and research findings. Prevention and awareness is of the utmost importance in this particular area of crime. Day three of the event, co-chaired by Europol with INHOPE discussed proactive strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and the use of child abuse images and new prevention initiatives.
The closing remarks underlined the need for proper legislation, appropriate resources, the ability to follow and respond to new threats, the need for a victim focused approach in this crime area, and most of all the need for continuous cooperation between law enforcement and other stakeholders in all facets of fighting child sexual exploitation.