As children increasingly navigate the online world, it is imperative that we address these concerns related to safeguarding their well-being, privacy, and future opportunities.
The General Comment No.25 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the General Comment No.7 of Article 27 of ACRWC, revised ITU framework and the Malabo Convention provide a framework for African countries to combat cybercrime and child sexual abuse.
These frameworks emphasize the importance of legislation, law enforcement, and international cooperation in effectively addressing issues of abuse and how to protect children online.
Inspired by the above, the annual campaign inaugurated by Child Online Africa (COA) and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) in 2021 dubbed #Week4COP raised awareness about child online protection concerns and promote inclusive actions ensuring the safety and well-being of children and young people in the digital world across Africa.
The campaign this year focused on the call for proactive action to provide WHAT CHILDREN IN AFRICA NEED to be online.
The campaign has also observed that there is a lot being done by different actors regarding protection however little is being done to address the skills gap issues as well as meaningful participation.
Based on this observation and to commemorate the Africa Union Day of the African Child 2023 under the theme “The Rights of The Child in The Digital environment” we wish to bring to the attention of stakeholders one of the many protocols if everyone could ratify will serve as a good starting point for the Continent of Africa thus: the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection also known as the Malabo convention.
The campaign recognizes that Malabo Convention plays a crucial role in addressing cybercrime and child abuse including pornography, in Africa by providing a comprehensive legal framework and promoting international cooperation. The provisions in the Convention considers the following:
- Harmonization of Laws: By encouraging African countries to align their legislation with the Convention, it helps establish consistent legal frameworks for prosecuting cybercriminals and those involved in child pornography across the continent. This harmonization facilitates efficient cross-border investigations and extradition processes.
- Strengthened Law Enforcement: The Convention enhances the capacity of law enforcement agencies in African countries to combat cybercrime and child abuse. It promotes knowledge sharing, training programs, and technical assistance to equip authorities with the necessary skills and tools to investigate and prosecute these offenses effectively.
- International Collaboration: The Convention emphasizes the importance of cooperation between African countries and international organizations in combating cybercrime and child abuse. This collaboration facilitates the exchange of information, expertise, and resources, enabling more efficient investigations and joint operations to dismantle criminal networks involved in child pornography and cybercrime.
- Enhanced Data Protection: The provisions on personal data protection within the Convention promote secure handling of information during the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime and child abuse cases. This ensures that victims’ privacy rights are respected while allowing law enforcement agencies to gather the necessary evidence.
- Prevention and Awareness: The Convention’s emphasis on prevention and awareness campaigns helps educate the public, including children, about the risks of cybercrime and the importance of reporting incidents. By promoting a proactive approach, the Convention aims to reduce the prevalence of cybercrime and child abuse, including child pornography, in African communities.
The campaign believes if these provisions are operationalized effectively by member States, Africa will be making strides in guaranteeing that the African Child’s rights are enjoyed by them and by extension their families and society at large.
Child Online Africa and partners remain committed to championing the rights of young people and ensuring their safety and well-being in the digital realm. Let us together create a BETTER DIGITAL FOR OUR FUTURE.