‘Child sex abuse addiction in T&T’

15th June, 2022 1:12 pm

There is a growing appetite for child sex abuse footage in Trinidad, according to United States-based Child Rescue Coalition (CRC) liaison Glen Pounder.

In an interview with the Sunday Express last Thursday, Pounder, who has been with CRC since 2019, said that through the use of CRC’s technology the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of individuals streaming child sex abuse have been identified globally.

Based on IP addresses identified, Port of Spain tops the list of viewership, closely followed by Chaguanas. Other areas streaming such footage include New Grant, Maraval, Arima, San Fernando, Petit Valley, Sangre Grande, Point Fortin, Arouca, Couva and Mayaro.

An IP address is a unique identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network. The IP address contains locator information and makes devices accessible for communication.

Pounder said this area of the Internet cannot be accessed via Google.

“It is from the deep dark web where two-year-olds, four-year-olds are victims and no one wants to talk about it. It is so horrific.”

Pounder said CRC’s networking is worldwide, where a series of collaborations take place to disrupt child sex abuse rings. Their technology provides the most comprehensive view of where child predators around the world are downloading and sharing explicit content online.

“CRC collaborates with a global force of child exploitation investigators, police officers, digital forensic experts, child welfare agencies and donors to rescue children and apprehend abusers in real time. There is an awful lot to this crime type of child sexual abuse, and T&T has a serious child exploitation problem, so too the rest of the Caribbean.”

Pounder added that images and videos of sexual abuse are readily available through virtually every Internet technology, inclusive of social networking websites, file-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites, gaming devices and even mobile apps.

“These predators can also connect on Internet forums and networks to share their interests, desires and experiences abusing children, in addition to selling, sharing and trading images of their abuse,” he said.

Trafficking children

Often times, Pounder said, with these online paedophile communities, criminals discuss the sexual abuse and rape of children.

“And they share information with each other on obtaining child sexual abuse material. Often times they sexually abuse a child they have access to themselves, and they then share that material with other criminal paedophiles,” he said.

When one talks about the trafficking of children, Pounder said as painful as it sounds, the reality remains that trafficked children are raped and abused.

“It isn’t only to make money. These paedophiles are interested in child sexual abuse. Thousands of them are uninterested in money. Their currency is the children and the rape material they get their hands on and trade for free,” he said.

Explaining there are no money trails, Pounder said this is so because in most instances, the culprits meet online and exchange material.

It is a worldwide problem which requires dedicated law enforcement, he added.

“Too often in the headlines you hear they were trafficking that child for sex. That is an oxymoron which we see in the press every single day,” Pounder said.

“I believe media can assist in this fight. Children are being abused and raped. Child prostitute. Impossible. If you are trafficking children, you are doing so for them to be raped. There is no grey area around that.”

T&T and Caribbean not unique

T&T is not unique in not having full-time law enforcement resources in tackling child sex abuse, Pounder said.

“It is a problem across the Caribbean and wider community, including countries which have resources, but they have no dedication to tackling child sexual abuse,” he added.

Stressing on the dedication needed to ensure children are safe, Pounder recalled that while in law enforcement, the ambition of he and his colleagues was to arrest paedophiles and ensure they were brought to justice.

“While I was in law enforcement, I wanted to arrest everyone within the Caribbean involved in this. That was seven years ago, under Operation Caribbean Guardian.”

Citing T&T as an example, Pounder said based on information received, the viewership of child sex assault is a couple of hundreds, not thousands.

“Across the Caribbean at that time (seven years), there was 20-something thousand odd viewership. At the time we were thinking this is not an insurmountable challenge, let us do what we can… Let’s arrest them. Now that has changed to maybe, if we can get each jurisdiction to arrest one guy then that will be something,” Pounder said.

Admitting such thinking is “pretty sad, that we went from cleaning up these places to getting just one or two arrests”, Pounder said this will send a message and act as a deterrent.

Pounder said if T&T does not tackle the issue, it will soon become a political problem. He based this on “the borderless nature of the Internet, thereby allowing the potential for criminals where you are abusing children online while they are in another country.

“If that criminal cannot be tackled the sexual grooming, extortion of children like what is taking place in America, the UK, will continue,” he said.

Use of technology

Pounder said CRC’s technology allows for the identification of these suspects who are watching the most horrific child sexual abuse material.

Child sexual abuse material, Pounder said, “allows for law enforcement to investigate who is looking at child sexual abuse material. We have had a couple of hundreds in the last year”.

Additionally, to access CRC’s technology, law enforcement go through an intensive three-day in-person course. This course, Pounder explains, exposes suspected paedophiles accessing child sex abuse.

Depending on the country in question, Pounder said some of CRC’s work involves rescuing children who were victims.

These children are placed in a care facility.

“The problems are so bad and going on for years that the children are now adults and working in the centres, where new children are coming, seeking care. This is a serious problem going on for years now,” he said.

TTPS: We work alongside international partners

Speaking with the Sunday Express on June 10, acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob said T&T works alongside the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), and “information generated is then passed to the Cyber Unit and then to the Child Protection Unit”.

NCMEC is a private, non-profit organisation which serves as the national clearing house and resource centre for information about missing and exploited children.

They have assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 376,000 missing children globally.

About Glen Pounder

Glen Pounder has been with Child Rescue Coalition (CRC) since 2019, and used their technology in a law enforcement capacity since 2015. He acts as the organisation’s liaison with law enforcement and other partners, driving collaboration to protect children through the use of CRC’s cutting-edge technology.

Throughout his more-than-30-year law enforcement career, Pounder has undertaken numerous investigative, intelligence and team leadership roles combating child sexual abuse and many other forms of serious crime.

Pounder worked for six years in Portugal as the UK’s law enforcement liaison, between 2003 and 2009. After running an investigation team in the UK, he returned to foreign service in 2012 as liaison in the US, where he took responsibility for all CSE-related operational activity.

Pounder is fluent in Portuguese, and in 2019 completed a Master’s degree in Internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.

Flashback

IN March 2021, estate constable Neil Ramdeen, 35, of Batchiya Trace, Penal, appeared before Magistrate Adrian Darmanie, charged under Section 40 (1) of the Children’s Act, which makes it an offence to produce, distribute and possess child pornography. If convicted, a person faces a maximum penalty of a $30,000 fine and ten years in prison. Ramdeen was not called upon to plead to the charge, which was laid indictably.

Source: Trinidad Express

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