The number of criminal cases of online sexual abuse or exploitation initiated in the last five years indicates a relatively small number of crimes detected and investigated: 15 crimes of luring a minor for sexual purposes, 11 crimes of trafficking children for the purpose of online sexual exploitation, 131 crimes of child pornography and 2 crimes of resorting to child prostitution. Statistical data reveal only criminal cases in which children were exploited through information and communication technologies. In 2021, on siguronline.md alone there were reported 47 alleged cases of online sexual abuse. Officers of the Cybercrime Investigation Directorate of the National Investigations Inspectorate under the General Police Inspectorate daily receive dozens of reports of suspected child pornography from international organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
This discrepancy between the amount of extremely worrying signals of online activity of sexual abusers, on the one hand, and the number of criminal cases initiated regarding the online sexual abuse and exploitation of minors has a number of causes. Among them, divergences between the perceptions of justice professionals about what online sexual abuse actually is, gaps in the relevant regulatory and legal framework, technical particularities of obtaining digital evidence and conducting investigations of computer crimes, the challenges of conducting the hearing of minors under special conditions, and so on.
For these reasons, especially in this period, when the relevance of the mechanisms and practices of international cooperation in the effective instrumentation and examination of facts of online sexual abuse and exploitation of minors becomes more evident, we are moving forward with one of the strategic objectives of La Strada in the field of online child safety.
We are in the second day of the spring thematic school “Methods and tactics of investigation and examination of cases related to sex crimes committed by means of information technologies. Aspects of online abuse of minors”.
The training participants (over 20 judges and prosecutors from all over the country) have the opportunity to learn from the first source about the methods of proactive investigation, sources of information, peculiarities of obtaining digital evidence and gaps in the national regulatory framework that make more difficult the tasks put before the law enforcement bodies involved in countering cybercrime. Topics are covered by Iurie Roșca, head of the Cybercrime Investigation Directorate of the National Investigations Inspectorate under the General Police Inspectorate.
Elena Botezatu, Executive Director of the International Center La Strada, opened the workshop with a specific emphasis on online child sexual abuse and exploitation in our country.
Tatiana Turchină, psychotherapist, university lecturer, addressed the profile, motivation and various types of behavior of sexual aggressors, based on extensive research in which she took part recently.
International and domestic regulations on the protection of children from online sexual abuse and the specific aspects of research and qualification of criminal acts by AESOC were analyzed on the first day of training by Sergiu Russu, Interim Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases.
Our colleague Olesea Ciuciu, psychologist-interviewer of the Children program at La Strada, brought to the attention of judges and prosecutors the challenges that intervene during the hearings of minors under special conditions.
Ion Chirtoacă, judge of the Chisinau Court, and Elena Cobzac, judge of the Supreme Court, came before their colleagues with case studies from their own professional experience.
The thematic school for judges and prosecutors (22-23 March 2022) is part of the project “Strengthening the capacity of Moldova to address the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children”, implemented by the International Center La Strada in partnership with the National Institute of Justice, with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau.