Tirana, 6 October 2023 – The online media platform “ZËRI” made public today, following an investigation of its journalists that conducted in the Telegram app on some specific groups of pedophiles and sexual predators, who have distributed child sexual abuse materials in one of the channels that they had established. According to the platform, the images belonged to children who were sexually abused in Albania.
This is not the first time that global online platforms or apps have been used to share or distribute CSAM. Just a month ago on the same platform, iSIGURT.al – The National Child Internet Safety Hotline in Albania encountered serious problems to communicate with the platform on a similar online event.
iSIGURT.al and CRCA/ECPAT Albania are seriously concerned about the massive spread of online sexual violence against children and the share of CSAM, but above all about the lack of measures by responsible authorities in Albania to protect children online. Data shows that:
- At least 15 thousand profiles and pages in Albania were reported during 2022 as pages /profiles containing / distributing child sexual abuse material (NCMEC Tipline Report / National Report on Internet Safety – iSIGURT.al;)
- Every second, at least two images of CSAM are shared online. Behind every image, there is a child who has experienced or still experiences sexual violence. (NCMEC)
- In 2022, more of the most horrific categories of child sexual abuse were found online than ever before. 40% of these materials featured a child under 10 (Internet Watch Foundation Report 2022).
While many European countries are taking drastic measures to protect children from online sexual violence and exploitation, authorities in the country, both the country and parents are completely unaware of the crimes that children in Albania face every day online. At least 2-3 requests for closure of pages or profiles in Albanian are reported every day with content of extreme bullying or sexual violence against children. Today we have an open call for every responsible institution and every parent in Albania:
WAKE UP! NO CHILD IS SAFE ONLINE!
Online pedophiles and sexual predators every second, minute, hour or day are pegging children – to make them victims of sexual violence and exploitation! This is because Albanian law allows them to!
The National Hotline for Child Internet Safety and CRCA/ECPAT Albania, through this public statement, call on all the responsible authorities to address urgently the legal loopholes and to protection children online from pedophiles and sexual predators. We recommend to the authorities the following measures:
- Make access to pornography only through ID card registration and only for persons above 18 years old;
- Online platforms registered in Albania (social, chat, games, media etc.) shall be required to identify, remove and mandatory report to the law enforcement agencies any material containing CSAM or other forms of sexual violence against children. All platforms and websites must have a standard complaint form to report incidents that children may encounter when visiting these sites
- International / global platforms not registered in Albania, shall designate a contact point (in Albania) that acts as their responsible party for handling online incidents and reports from children or others.
- We invite every institution, CSO, business and media platform, to join us in a National Pact against Sexual Violence against Children in Albania (online and offline), to address together the needs for new laws, policies, standards, services, and curricula for the protection of children.
We make ourselves fully available to the authorities to share our best expertise in the area of online and offline child protection, together with the best expertise from our partners in the EU countries.