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Page last updated: November 22, 2020
MOI, UN jointly roll out AI-based technical project for better child protection
  • Sunday, November 22,2020

MOI, UN jointly roll out AI-based technical project for better child protection

A strategic partnership has been announced between the UAE Ministry of Interior and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) to launch a new technical project that adopts Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques with the aim of strengthening and supporting the efforts of law enforcement agencies in their endeavor to combat all forms of violence, exploitation and child abuse. It is considered is a unique international platform for the carefully planned use of AI in combatting crime and online sexual child abuse.

The project which is known as Project Cleanup.’ will be implemented through UNICRI’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in the Hague. Latest scientific experiments at the Centre will be discussed at the upcoming international meeting later this month in the presence of representatives from the Interpol.


Through this new project, UNICRI and the Ministry of Interior, together with key stakeholders, including in the law enforcement community, will explore how law enforcement and concerned authorities can use these and other applications of AI to safeguard children by combatting the rise of online child abuse crimes and work together with them and other stakeholders to take practical steps to ultimately facilitate the prevention, detection and prosecution of the perpetrators of such crimes. A key objective of the project will also be identifying appropriate strategies aimed at safeguarding our children and the use of technologies by law enforcement agencies.

The potential of this AI software to safeguard children has already been experimentally put to test. For instance, local police in New Delhi deployed facial recognition software that enabled the identification of 3,000 missing children within just four days of the launch of the pilot application. In the UK, AI helped police to identify child abuse images on confiscated devices, while in Germany and the Netherlands, national police have tested an AI-based prioritization tool designed to help them to scour the vast number of reports to swiftly identify children in real danger.

In 2019, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrated its 30th anniversary. Yet, children remain one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The ascent of technology has led to more crimes being committed both in the real world and online with children falling victims to the worst predators.

According to the UNODC statistics, there has been a clear increase in the number of children being trafficked in recent years, with children now accounting for 30 per cent of all detected victims. 

UNICEF has indicated that, of the roughly 1.8 billion photos that are uploaded to the internet each day, around 720,000 are believed to be illegal images of children, while the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US has stated that the number of reports of URLs containing Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) has dramatically increased from 3,000 in 1998 to 18.4 million in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a significant role in increasing the threat and risk of sexual exploitation of children, as both children and sex offenders found themselves confined in-doors and online for extended periods of time.


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