U.S., European officials to launch global effort against online child sexual abuse

Washington (CNN) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom will launch a new effort to fight child sexual abuse at a ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday.

“The initiative aims to unite decision-makers all around the world to better identify and assist victims and to prosecute the perpetrators,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

The initiative will be called the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online.

Participating nations pledge to pursue several goals, including enhancing efforts to investigate online abuse cases and prosecute offenders, improve efforts to identity victimized children and give them protection and other assistance, and make children more aware of online risks. Countries also want to reduce the availability of online child-abuse materials.

Representatives from 27 European Union member states will participate in the global initiative. Twenty-two non-EU countries also are involved including the United States, Canada, Australia, Albania, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine and Nigeria.

As an example of what can be achieved by international law enforcement cooperation, the Justice Department pointed to “Operation Delego” which was announced last year and was the largest U.S. prosecution of an international criminal organization that sexually exploited children.

The case involved people who participated in a private, members-only online bulletin board known as Dreamboard that encouraged the sexual abuse of young children.

According to the Justice Department, Operation Delego led to charges against 72 defendants, and more than 500 people were targeted for investigation by law enforcement authorities overseas.