UNICEF lauds efforts to protect children online

Director-General of CSA, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, and the Global Chief Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF Headquarters in New York, Afrooz Kaviani Johnson

Ghana has earned recognition as a stellar model not only for Africa, but also for the global community due to its proactive initiatives in safeguarding children online.

Afrooz Kaviani Johnson, the Global Chief Child Protection Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), lauded the country’s efforts in establishing a legal framework to protect the rights of Ghanaian children online.

Expressing her satisfaction when she led a team from UNICEF Ghana to pay a courtesy call on the management of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) in Accra, she remarked: “I am happy Ghana has been able to put the fundamental structures in place for public education, social welfare, and awareness creation on child online protection. We really do look to Ghana as a case study example”.

As part of her visit to Ghana, Ms. Johnson, participated in a stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the development of a Legislative Instrument (L.I.) on the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), with a focus on child online protection.

Online staff of UNICEF and CSA

Ghana, since 2016, has been collaborating with UNICEF and other relevant stakeholders to tackle the issue of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) and has facilitated the integration of targeted interventions on OCSEA into the national child protection systems.

The UNICEF team, during its visit to the CSA, sought to further engage on the development of the  LI with input from civil society organisations and other relevant state institutions.

Ms. Johnson commended the sector minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, and the Director-General of the CSA, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, for their transformational leadership and contribution toward safeguarding the lives of innocent children against indecent and harmful online contents.

She spoke fondly of Dr. Antwi-Boasiako, recalling their shared international platforms at conferences to discuss the pressing issues surrounding child online protection and other cybersecurity-related issues.

The global child protection specialist stated that children, who are vulnerable, formed half of the population of many African countries; for this reason, they must be protected against consuming unwholesome online contents.

In his remarks, Dr. Antwi-Boasiako acknowledged and applauded the support of UNICEF toward Ghana’s cyber-security journey.

He noted that the steady progress Ghana had chalked in cyber-security readiness, from a score of 32.60 percent in 2017 to 86.6 percent as of 2020 on the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Index – a feat he described as a major leap, was as a result of the collaboration with and support from UNICEF.

The Director-General suggested that the collaboration between the CSA and UNICEF should be scaled up and institutionalised around a number of areas comprising awareness creation, research into child online protection issues, support for criminal justice response to child online safety issues – including prosecution of offenders and victims support services, among others.

Afrooz Kaviani Johnson was accompanied by Miho Yoshikawa – child protection specialist, Hilda Mensah – child protection specialist, Joyce Odame – child protection officer, and Benjamin Kobina Amoah Dadson – digital communication officer at UNICEF Ghana Country Office.

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