WASHINGTON, April 22, 2004 — In an effort to address the ever-increasing use of the Internet to victimize young people and the insidious threat of sex crimes against children, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (the International Centre) ( http://www.icmec.org/ ) today announced the launch of its Global Campaign Against Child Pornography. Bolstered by a combined $1 million donation by philanthropist and International Centre board member Sheila C. Johnson and Microsoft Corp. ( http://www.microsoft.com/ ), this effort intensifies the ongoing, collaborative work of international law enforcement, organizations and individuals. The announcement was made at a press conference attended by key international law enforcement representatives, including Secretary General Ronald K. Noble of Interpol ( http://www.interpol.int/ ).
Online child exploitation is a serious worldwide problem. In 2003 alone, more than 200,000 reports of Internet-related child pornography were made to the domestic center’s CyberTipline ( http://www.cybertipline.org/ ). In addition, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that one in five children between the ages of 10 and 17 has received unwanted sexual solicitations online.
In response to these staggering statistics, in 2002 the International Centre, global law enforcement and others devised in Dublin, Ireland, a worldwide action agenda for combating child pornography. From that conference emerged five main action items, dubbed “The Dublin Plan,” all of which the Global Campaign Against Child Pornography will assist in tackling:
To create an international child pornography monitoring and oversight system
To develop and promote systems for identifying the victims of child pornography
To enhance the capacity of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute child pornography
To develop model legislation and ensure consistency of laws between nations and promote stronger involvement by private-sector entities
To build public awareness of the problem of child pornography
Through Johnson’s $500,000 donation and Microsoft’s equal match, the $1 million is already providing training to law enforcement personnel around the world. The first of thus far three four-day training sessions in combating computer-facilitated crimes against children took place in France in December; the second was held in Costa Rica in February; and the third will conclude today in Brazil. Nearly 300 law enforcement officers from 90 countries have benefited from these sessions and hundreds more are expected to participate this year. The International Centre plans as many as 10 training sessions per year.
“To combat global networks of child pornographers, we must all become a global network of child protectors,” Johnson said. “The sexual victimization of children — a problem that is overwhelming in magnitude yet largely unrecognized and underreported — demands our immediate, collective and global action.”
“It is critical that the Internet, the source of so much benefit for students and educators, not be undermined by those who harm children,” said Nancy Anderson, deputy general counsel at Microsoft. “Sheila has brought all of us together to not just talk about this issue, but to actually do something about it. And the doing has already begun. The Internet must remain a place that is safe and conducive to learning, not an instrument for criminals.”
“The Internet knows no geographical borders and recognizes no jurisdictional boundaries,” Noble said. “And neither do the criminals who use it to exploit children. Only through worldwide collaborations and partnerships like the ones we see here today can we rescue the world’s children from this kind of exploitation.”
“We are thrilled today to bring together such a diverse group of engaged parties to ignite this important campaign,” said Ernie Allen, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. “Through Interpol’s unwavering worldwide reach and Sheila Johnson and Microsoft’s combined contribution, we are able to take the next step in addressing the horrific abuses that victims of child pornography endure.”
“This is a growing problem that needs to be addressed,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. “It is going to take resources and public awareness to combat child pornography. I commend this unique collaboration of people for taking on this fight.”
About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
The International Centre is the leading global service agency working to protect the world’s children from exploitation and abduction. For more information on the International Centre, please visit www.icmec.org .
About Sheila C. Johnson
Sheila C. Johnson, an entrepreneur and philanthropist and educator, is the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television. As a director of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, Johnson not only lends her financial support to the organization, but will also be attending training sessions at strategic sites around the world.
Interpol was set up in 1923 to facilitate cross-border criminal police cooperation. Today, it is the largest international police organization in the world, with 181 member countries spread over five continents.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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