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NZ’s role in sparking global online sting praised

23 May 2012

NZ’s role in sparking global online sting praised

A global sting across 20 countries has netted some 55 key suspects in the worldwide distribution of child sex abuse images, thanks to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs’ Censorship Compliance Unit.

The operation kicked off in late 2010, after the Unit found child sex abuse and exploitation images being swapped through social networking sites including Facebook. Its alert and subsequent assistance to international law enforcement agencies including Interpol sparked a global sting code-named Operation Laminar.

While none of the 55 targeted were from New Zealand, five Kiwis played a “lesser role in the closed groups”, says DIA. The sting netted suspects from Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, England, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, The Netherlands, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela.

Some of the 55 were involved in the actual sex abuse of children depicted. Twelve children including one from New Zealand were identified and removed from harm.

The New Zealand Unit’s work has been praised by the Head of Interpol’s Crimes against Children Unit, Mick Moran.

Stop Demand, a group working to combat sexual exploitation of children, says the praise is well-deserved. Its founder Denise Ritchie, who has worked with the Unit since its inception in 1996, says New Zealand’s DIA Censorship Compliance Unit is a world class leader in the global fight against the online rape and sexual exploitation of children. They are a small group of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly in an extremely gruelling, often heart-wrenching environment. The high praise by Interpol and other global enforcement bodies is well-deserved. The Unit has built up internationally-renowned expertise – forensic, technological and training - that has become increasingly invaluable to overseas agencies.”

A heinous crime

Child sex abuse image crimes rank amongst society’s most heinous acts. Victims not only experience the long-term traumas commonly associated with rape and sexual violation. Worse, they live with the knowledge that their recorded rapes are shared, salivated over, masturbated to and mentally re-enacted by countless men - in perpetuity. Re-victimisation often lasts a lifetime. One victim, now 19, describes an anguished life knowing that a filmed series of her “little me” being repeatedly raped by an uncle, is widely shared and irretrievable.

“The key to combating this utterly inhumane trade is to crack down on those fuelling demand. If there were no demand for these images, there would be no supply,” says Denise Ritchie.

Stop Demand calls for action to stop sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual denigration of women and children.


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