Commissioner-General of Police, Tandabantu Godwin Matanga (seated centre) poses for a group photo with

INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare staff members, officers from the INTERPOL Secretariat

and workshop participants from the African Region

INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare hosts VITFA training

The INTERPOL Regional Bureau Harare was recently privileged to host the first ever Victim Identification Task Force Africa (VITFA) training workshop meant to equip police officers in the continent with skills to identify victims and perpetrators of crimes committed against children.

The 5-day workshop held at INTERPOL Region Bureau in Harare, drew participants from 10 countries from the African continent. The workshop was facilitated by officers from INTERPOL’s Secretariat based in Leon, France. The aim of the workshop was to capacitate police officers to identify offenders, rescue young victims of violence, as well as to block any material that perpetuates child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Officially opening the workshop, the Commissioner General of Police, Tandabantu Godwin Matanga said crimes of child abuse and exploitation have grown up rapidly owing to the growth of the internet access.

“Given this challenge, an internationally coordinated and targeted training has become essential as it enhances the law enforcement capabilities in different jurisdictions to deal with this despicable phenomenon,” said Commissioner-General Matanga.

He added that it was disheartening to note that criminals were taking advantage of the children’s presence on the internet to prey on them, at a time when their presence online is now also a necessity.

Head of INTERPOL RB Harare, Mr Sello Moerane, who was represented by the Regional Specialised Officer (RSO) Phiwa Nhlengetfwa, welcomed the training saying, it complements the INTERPOL Bureau’s activities on forensic science.

“Some member states within SARPCCO region have set up dedicated social media monitoring units, whose task is to identify, flag and report suspicious and criminal behaviour to relevant crime desks. Such an approach is among the best practices, I hope to see this shared and implemented in our countries,” he said.

He said many children are being lured by criminals in the social media and website pages where they are recruited, groomed, exploited and trafficked by scammers who use fake online accounts.

“The availability of cheap but high quality digital cameras and mobile phones has made the production process of Child Exploitation Materials (CEM) and memorializing physical offending easier than it has ever been. The pedophiles collect such offensive materials for many reasons, which include sexual gratification, grooming, blackmail and trade among others,“ he added.

As a contingency measure, INTERPOL has developed an International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database that member states can use to identify and ensure wherever the offenders are, they can be arrested and face justice.

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