Other partners involved in the project execution are the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Communications.

This specialized unit will strengthen the reliability and integrity of investigations of online abuse against children through the acquisition, analysis and presentation of electronic evidence from digital devices and the internet.

The laboratory is the first of its kind in the West and Central African sub-regions, and will link the Ghana Police Service with Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation Database.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Country Representative in Ghana, said the main objectives forensic lab project were to protect children and women from online violence and abuse; to provide solid evidence that could be used in judicial proceedings, to prosecute criminals; and as a result, to improve the rate of prosecutions and convictions against cyber predators.

She said in addition to providing modern equipment and tools, UNICEF was strengthening the skills of Police Officers to detect and investigate cases, using new techniques and evidence from digital devices and internet.“

This initiative promises to be a game changer in protecting children from pernicious acts of online abuse, exploitation and violence”.

Madam Dufay encouraged Ghana to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior, who formally launched the forensic lab appealed to all Ghanaians and civil society organizations (CSOs) to collaborate with the police service to protect children.

Mr Dery, who said the lab was being inaugurated to help protect children and further appealed to the judiciary to assist in this exercise.

Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister for Communications, in a speech read on her behalf said the Government would continue to scale up its efforts in creating awareness and building capacity in the area of cybercrime/cybersecurity in order to equip children, the public, business and state institutions with the requisite skills and information needed to stay safe online.

“We laud the relentless efforts of all our partners, especially UNICEF-Ghana, who have rendered unflinching support in ensuring the safety and security of our children and young people both online and offline”.

Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, the Inspector General of Police, in a speech read on his behalf noted that the establishment of the lab with its intended capacity building training programme would go a long way to prepare the police adequately in their efforts to combat online crime.

He said the lab would also prepare the police adequately to protect the nation’s children.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Ken Yeboah, the Director-General, Criminal Investigation Department, Ghana Police Service, said records available from the National Centre of Exploited Children reports, about 40 indecent images of children were uploaded on the surface web every week from Ghana, which consolidated the real need for digital forensic laboratory.

“Hence, launching a laboratory that would assist acquire evidence in a forensically sound manner, admissible in court is worth celebrating.”

Dr Joseph Whittle, the Acting Deputy British High Commissioner, said recent report from Interpol indicated that online crimes presented the biggest security issue in Africa than ever before.

He said there was the need for nations, international organizations and CSOs to work together to tackle online crime.