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Tonga hosts the Second Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network (PILON) Cybercrime Workshop

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12th June, 2018 The Government of Tonga through the Attorney General’s Office is hosting the Second Pacific Islands Law Officer’s Network Cybercrime Workshop on Combatting Online Child Abuse in the Pacific from the 12th – 15th June, 2018 at Tanoa International Dateline.

Hon. Poasi Tei said that Tonga hosted the first PILON Cybercrime Workshop in May last year under the theme ‘The Pacific Response to Cybercrime: Effective Tools and Good Practices’ which was a general introduction to ensuring a common understanding and approach to combatting cybercrime.

He said that this year’s theme is more focused on one strand in this vast, fast-evolving criminal front.

“Online child abuse is prevalent across the globe and there needs to be a universal approach. We in the Pacific should be well into this global effort and collaboration. Thus the objective of this workshop is to empower Pacific communities to work together to deter, detect and prosecute online child abuse.”

“The number of children online customers increases, as they also have the right and developed a need for the vast amount of information and entertainment available in cyberspace. In doing so, our children became accessible to cyber criminals who have the sick infatuation to exploit children for their own demonic pleasures.”

He said that some children and youth use the remoteness of cyberspace to harass and bully their peers and traffickers use cyberspace as a cover to exploit and destroy the lives of children.

“As policy makers, investigators and prosecutors, we need to fight this battle with equal vigour, as we do to approach other current overwhelming challenges we face here in the Pacific such as climate change, natural disasters, corruption, and illicit drugs.”

He said that a number of governments in the Pacific have raised concerns about the abusive use of social media to distribute false and defamatory information.

“Although those concerns may perhaps be seen as generated by political issues, it illustrates that there is an underlying recognition at the highest political level around the Pacific, that the benefits of online access have been converted to the advantage of those with malicious or criminal intentions.”

Hon. Tei told the gathering that the governments are therefore being called upon to hold these online abusers to account, and instil better responsibility for the information disseminated online.

“Here in Tonga we have laws to deal with some online child abuse, and we have investigated and prosecuted the rare cases that we have detected. We are however in the process of expanding current drafts of online child abuse criminal provisions that seemed suitable last year, to criminalise the ever-changing criminal activities.”

Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, Mr. Andrew Ford said that Australia is proud to support this workshop through Australia’s Cyber Cooperation Program, in partnership with the Council of Europe and the Kingdom of Tonga.

“We see this as an import mechanism to help countries strengthen their legal frameworks to combat cybercrime, and grow the network of practitioners able to work together more effectively to investigate, prosecute and deter cybercrime across the region.”

Mr. Ford said, “Cooperation and partnership lies at the very heart of our activities in relation to combatting cybercrime, and transnational crime more generally.”

The four-day workshop is attended by more than 40 participants from 15 countries in the Pacific and experts from various agencies and organizations including Australia Federal Police, Council of Europe and Facebook.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.

 

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