Australian National Statement to the Twenty-eighth session Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Australian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna
20 May 2019
Thank you Chair.
The last few decades Australia have witnessed enormous change across the Indo-Pacific region.
The mass movement of people and goods across borders has opened up new trading opportunities, which have fuelled economic development and a rise in living standards in Australia's region.
Indo-Pacific countries have become more interconnected and interdependent than ever before.
But with these new opportunities have come new challenges.
As we have become more integrated, new pathways and opportunities for criminal elements to exploit have emerged.
Transnational, serious and organised crime has established itself as an enduring threat to our region’s security, stability and prosperity.
It endures because of the range of crimes that comprise it
- Trafficking in people, wildlife, drugs and firearms
- Child sexual exploitation and abuse
- and a myriad of other crimes.
And this threat endures because criminal elements continuously adapt and evolve their enterprises to changing circumstances.
We too must adapt and evolve – we must cooperate and consistently step-up our efforts if we are to thwart those who threaten our prosperity and work to undermine our all-important rule of law.
With this in mind, Australia recently launched a new National Strategy to Fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime.
This National Strategy sets out for Australia – for the first time – how our Federal, State and Territory Governments will align their efforts to combat these forms of crime.
It provides a powerful framework for government agencies, the private sector and the broader community to tackle this insidious threat.
My delegation is ready to provide more details on this Strategy, which might offer a useful model for those who also wish to develop such a strategy.
One of the most pernicious and persistent examples of transnational crime is the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
There are few crimes so abhorrent, or which have such a devastating, ongoing impact on victims.
While countries have long grappled with this most heinous of crimes, the rapid growth in information and communications technologies has been helping to facilitate the production of – and access to – child abuse material, and has added a new, evolving cyber dimension to the crime.
In a disturbing but growing trend, offenders are paying to watch – and even to direct – the sexual abuse of children via live-streaming services.
Moreover, the scale of the abuse is shocking.
In Australia alone, our law enforcement authorities received over 17,000 reports of child abuse material in 2018, representing an 84 per cent increase from the previous year.
Each report can contain hundreds or thousands of images and videos of children being sexually abused.
Combating child sexual exploitation and abuse online is a key priority for Australia.
So in 2018, we established the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation to bring together specialists from government and non-government agencies and from private industry and academia, and to provide a cohesive and holistic response to child sexual exploitation and abuse.
In further recognition of the priority Australia places on countering this threat, we are pleased to join with Mexico to lead a resolution at this Commission to counter child exploitation.
This resolution seeks to highlight the scale and changing nature of the threat posed by online child sexual exploitation and abuse.
It calls upon countries to strengthen efforts to combat the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including criminalising child sexual exploitation and abuse, and encouraging improved cooperation between countries to bring offenders to justice.
Australia looks forward to working with countries to finalise this resolution and, in doing so, to help protect our most vulnerable.
Australia also wants to acknowledge the focus of this year’s Commission, which is to highlight the responsibility of all effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems, and to prevent and counter crime which is motivated by intolerance or discrimination of any kind.
Crime driven by such motives is broad ranging.
While concerning at any level, without successful intervention, it has the potential to escalate in scale and reach.
Violent criminals – and their sympathisers – are taking advantage of the growing reach of digital platforms to broadcast their messages of hate.
While mindful of freedom of speech considerations, Australia is committed to limiting the reach of abhorrent and hateful content online.
But this is a goal that can only be accomplished collectively through collaboration between governments, digital industry and civil society.
For this reason, Australia recently introduced new legislation requiring social media & internet content hosting platforms to quickly remove abhorrent violent material, such as depictions of actual acts of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping or terrorism.
This Commission has a long record as an invaluable forum for the sharing of ideas, experiences and expertise relating to criminal justice and crime prevention.
It has underlined the importance of international cooperation – the importance of: joined-up-efforts to thwart equally joined-up criminal enterprises, and of robust domestic and international legal frameworks that bring criminals to justice and provide victims with closure and remedies.
Here in Vienna, we have discussed and debated challenges, elevated important issues to the global stage and made important strides towards achieving a more just world.
Australia is pleased to continue to contribute to this important work of the CCPCJ, and is proud to play a constructive, cooperative role in this Commission.