On 4 and 5 November, the British High Commission and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) hosted a workshop in Kampala on safeguarding children and preventing child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The workshop, delivered by the UK’s College of Policing, brought together a broad range of child protection experts from Uganda, including representatives of government, the criminal justice sector, schools and civil society organisations. Amongst the issues discussed were methods for identifying and supporting vulnerable children, developing collaborative approaches to child protection and addressing the growing threat of online child abuse.
The British High Commissioner, HE Alison Blackburne, said:
The sexual exploitation of children, in all its forms, is completely unacceptable. The UK Government is determined to do all we can to eradicate it at home and around the world. As with many other global issues, Uganda is an important partner. The NCA Child Protection Workshop and the UK’s work with UNICEF to prevent online abuse demonstrate our commitment to tackling this terrible crime.
As part of the two-day workshop, on 4 November, the High Commissioner hosted a networking reception at her Residence to launch the UK’s International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) in Uganda. Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Hon James Baba was the guest of honour at the event.
The ICPC has been developed in the UK to help protect children from British nationals, or anyone who has spent time living in the UK, who would seek to travel and work overseas with the intention of sexually abusing children. The ICPC can be issued following a check made against police information and intelligence databases in the UK, and lists all of the applicant’s convictions. The Certificate provides reassurance that staff employed in schools and voluntary organisations do not have a criminal record in the UK that would make them unsuitable to work with children. The ICPC is produced by the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO) in the UK in conjunction with the National Crime Agency (NCA) – Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, the UK’s national law enforcement agency for child protection.
At the event, the High Commissioner encouraged schools and civil society organisations in Uganda to incorporate the ICPC into their recruitment requirements, when employing UK nationals or residents. She also encouraged the Government of Uganda and other countries to introduce similar systems for verifying their citizens’ suitability for working with children. Minister of State for Internal Affairs James Baba welcomed the ICPC and described the Government of Uganda’s ongoing efforts to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Speaking at the event, Paul Stanfield, the UK National Crime Agency’s Regional Manager for East & Southern Africa said:
The International Child Protection Certificate was developed as a way to ensure that no one from the UK with a conviction for sexual offences could get a position in another country where they would have access to children. We hope the event this evening will raise awareness of the ICPC and create a forum to share ideas on stopping child sexual exploitation in Uganda and the UK.
On 16-17 November, a Ugandan delegation, led by Minister of State James Baba, will attend the #WeProtect Children Online Summit in Abu Dhabi, jointly hosted by the United Arab Emirates and the UK. Uganda has established a working group to tackle online child sexual exploitation, many of whom attended the workshop, and launched an online portal for reporting indecent images of children on the internet. Through a new Global Fund, the UK is working in partnership with UNICEF, to tackle online abuse in a number of countries, including Uganda.