Advocacy for improved online safety of children in Kenya

Terre des Hommes Netherlands has recently participated in various stakeholder forums as part of its programme addressing Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) in Kenya. Our expertise gathered through various rapid assessment and baseline researches in the country, combined with the insights from our worldwide efforts to deter and help catching OCSE predators, formed the basis of discussions with authorities, NGOs and professionals working with children. All stakeholders once again committed themselves to join forces to combat online violence, sexual abuse and exploitation of children. In addition, Terre des Hommes Netherlands successfully put child online safety on the map of the ongoing lobby around the Children Bill 2018.

Terre des Hommes pakt seksuele uitbuiting aan

Cybercrimes Act suspended

Almost immediately after becoming official law, 26 clauses of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018 were suspended by Kenyan courts, following an argument by privacy and human rights lobby groups that the clauses facilitated online censorship. The suspended clauses include clauses related to OCSE, such as section 24 on child pornography, section 27 on cyber harassment, and section 37 on wrongful distribution of obscene or intimate images.

Within this context, Terre des Hommes Netherlands believes that regardless of specialised laws, child online safety should be integrated in mainstream legal frameworks as well. Informed by this, through the Children Agenda Forum we facilitated advocacy initiatives around the Children Bill 2018, where local child and youth rights civil society organisations jointly developed advocacy strategies to lobby parliament to pass the bill once it is being tabled.

Children Bill 2018

According to Terre des Hommes Netherlands and our partners, the Children Bill 2018 is a great improvement of the current Children Act 2001. The new Bill for instance provides alternative care and restorative justice options for children in conflict with the law, and it clearly stipulates division of roles and responsibilities of the key child focused agencies in government including the Department of Children Services and the National Council for Children Services.

Moreover, the Children Bill 2018 is better synchronised to recent developments, by including emerging issues that affect children such as climate change, radicalisation and internet safety. Thanks to sensitisation by child focused organisations including Terre des Hommes Netherlands, the issues of internet safety and online exploitation and abuse have been included in the Bill, specifically Section 20 clause 3, 4, 5.

Multi disciplinary approach on OCSE

Apart from the legal framework, concerted efforts are needed to ensure a multi disciplinary approach to combat OCSE among all stakeholders. Terre des Hommes Netherlands contributed its expertise to the ‘Unified voice for safe online platforms’ conference, organised by the County Government of Nairobi and the International Center for Missing and Exploited children (ICMEC). Also participating were the Department of Children Services, the Teachers Service Commission and various (mainly health focused) NGO’s. Main conclusions of this conference were the commitment to support and coordinate capacity strengthening, expansion of the cyber crime unit, creation of strong referral pathways and provision of psychosocial support to child victims of online exploitation.

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