Investigate child online offences diligently - Police urged

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Participants in the workshop
Participants in the workshop

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa, has called on police investigators to conduct proper investigations into reported child online cases for effective prosecutions.

She explained that it was essential for prosecutors to learn how to present cases before trial judges, especially with regard to issues bordering on the admissibility of digital evidence.

Opening a two-day workshop on the Child Online Protection (COP) provisions in the newly passed Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) in Accra, Ms Atakora-Obuobisa stated that only thorough investigations would ensure that online child offences were prosecuted effectively.

The workshop

The workshop, organised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), in collaboration with UNICEF Ghana, was to equip the COP stakeholders with the required knowledge and understanding of the COP provisions in the Cybersecurity Act and to encourage stakeholders to create awareness of the COP provisions in the Act for effective implementation.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Judiciary, Office of the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), UNICEF-Ghana, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Education Service (GES), Department of Social Welfare, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders.

Opportune time

The Head of the Legislative Drafting Division at the Office of the Attorney General, Ms Mavis Amoa, noted that the legislation was passed at an opportune time, especially considering the dimensions and trends of technological development.

She indicated that cross border crimes committed through the internet and other online crimes had motivated the passage of the Act, with the primary goal to protect citizens.

She said there was, therefore, the need for a robust framework, including legislative instruments and regulations, to support effective implementation of the Act.

Prepare for implementation

In his remarks, the Head of NCSC, Dr Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the Cyber Security Authority, established under Section two of Act 1038, would employ a consultative approach in enforcing its regulatory functions.

He, therefore, called on the various stakeholders who were impacted by the law to prepare adequately for its full implementation.

Dr Antwi-Boasiako added that the government, through the minister of communications and digitalisation, would in the coming weeks outline a number of regulatory interventions aimed at protecting Ghana’s digital ecosystem as part of the implementation of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020.

A representative from UNICEF, Mr Rafiq Muhammad Khan, commended the government for its commitment to child online protection and indicated his institution's readiness to continue working with the Cyber Security Authority and other partners in the implementation of the Act.

The Act

Ghana's Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) criminalises the production, possession, publishing, sharing and online streaming of child sexual abuse and exploitation materials.

The Act also aims at protecting children and young people from the wrongful and non-consensual exposure of their intimate images in cyberspace.

The Act further seeks to authorise a service provider to block, filter or takedown content that aims at undermining children's protection online.

Offenders could face up to 25 years in jail for breaching any of the provisions. Analysts believe such hefty punishments are needed to protect children who are increasingly being exposed to various forms of dangers on the internet including sexual exploitation.