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Customs cracks down on child exploitation

17 February 2017

Customs cracks down on child exploitation

Customs’ crackdown on child exploitation has resulted in four separate arrests of passengers carrying objectionable images and New Zealanders caught online.

On Friday 13 January, Customs profiling prompted the questioning a 47-year-old NZ resident at Auckland Airport. Officers located child sexual abuse material on his phone, and a search warrant located more objectionable publications on his home computer. He faces charges for importing and possessing objectionable material.

A week later, Customs investigators, with the support of NZ Police, arrested and charged a 30-year-old Warkworth man involved in exporting and distributing (uploading) child sexual abuse material using a common messaging application. This arrest was the result of an ongoing Customs investigation into online offending and intelligence from NZ Police.

In late January, Customs officers questioned a 63-year-old dual NZ/UK citizen returning from overseas and detained his electronic devices for further examination. Customs investigators arrested the man after forensic analysis of his devices located objectionable publications. He faces importation and possession charges.

Earlier this month, Customs investigators, with assistance from the Department of Internal Affairs, arrested a 67-year-old Auckland man for exporting objectionable publications using an online chatroom. Both agencies had been investigating this man, who now faces charges for exporting and distributing objectionable publications, plus a cannabis possession charge.

Customs Investigations Manager Maurice O’Brien says these results are a great start to 2017, and a snapshot of the crimes Customs and partner agencies continually strive to stop.

“While Customs remains focussed on stopping illicit drug smuggling, combatting child exploitation is also a high priority. Whether it’s someone carrying child sexual abuse images and videos across the border or offending by uploading, downloading or sharing such material over the virtual border, Customs is committed to catching them.

“Customs uses intelligence and technology to identify travellers who may be carrying objectionable publications, and we have a small team of dedicated investigators who identify online offending. Forensic examination of e-devices, detained at the airport or seized at a search warrant, contributes to the evidence gathered for prosecution,” Mr O’Brien says.

-ends-

Terminology

• Media are urged to use the terminology ‘child sexual abuse images’ or ‘child objectionable material’, and not ‘child pornography’.
• The use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ downplays child sex abuse:
o It indicates legitimacy and compliance on the victim’s part and therefore suggests legality on the abuser’s part.
o It conjures up images of children posing in ‘provocative’ positions, rather than the image capturing the suffering of horrific abuse.

• Every publication of these images promotes the sexual exploitation of children and young people and often portrays actual child abuse occurring at the time.

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