10,000th victim of child sex abuse rescued, says Interpol

Investigators used the worldwide database to analyse millions of images found on suspects' computers or spotted on the internet.

Less than seven years after Interpol set up its International Child Sexual Exploitation database, the global crime buster has identified and rescued a 10,000th child victim, it said Monday.

Using the worldwide database, investigators analyse millions of images found on suspects’ computers or spotted on the internet.

The system’s sophisticated software compares photos and videos, allowing investigators to identify abusers and locations.

“The scale of this crime is shocking, made worse by the fact that these images can be shared online globally at the touch of a button and can exist forever,” said Interpol chief Jürgen Stock.

“Each time an image or video clip is shared or viewed, the child is being re-victimised,” he said.

Analysis of the digital, visual and audio content of files is another way of finding clues, determining when cases overlap and pooling efforts to locate victims.

Police services in 49 of Interpol’s 190 member states are connected 24/7 to the ICSE database.

– Clues in photos –

In June 2015, a man in his 40s was arrested in the southwestern French town of Ariege after he posted pornographic pictures of his 10-year-old niece on the internet.

His detention was triggered on the other side of the world where New Zealand police had just entered the photos into the Interpol database after infiltrating a discussion forum.

That step allowed their French colleagues to determine the same day that the images came from Ariege, by spotting in the background a French shampoo logo and the uniform of the local firefighting service.

In another case, British police were able to rescue a child and arrest his suspected abuser only 10 hours after Australian police uploaded images to the ICSE database.

But Stock warned: “Whilst we are pleased to have assisted law enforcement around the world… this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Saying “more can still be done,” he urged the private sector and the public to play a greater role in tracking down abusers.

The trafficking of child pornography, which existed long before the internet, grew exponentially in the 1990s as the internet expanded, an official of the ICSE told AFP.

“No country is spared” from the scourge, said the official, a French woman who requested anonymity.

“In more than 95% of cases, the abuser is part of the victim’s entourage,” she said.

“Sometimes you see children growing up in the pictures, without being able to find them. But sometimes you can find them in less than 24 hours.”

© 1994-2017 Agence France-Presse

Read more on these topics

child abuse Interpol trafficking

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits