DIA Strengthens International Partnership To Combat Online Child Sexual Exploitation And Abuse


An experienced Special Agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has just completed a two-month international secondment with Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs’ (DIA) Digital Child Exploitation Team.

The Special Agent joined the DIA team from the Cyber Crime Centre at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The secondment, which was years in the making and had to be delayed several times due to COVID-19 restrictions, is the latest development in the close relationship between Te Tari Taiwhenua and HSI. The agencies support each other to identify children at risk and hold offenders to account.

Tim Houston, DIA’s Manager Digital Child Exploitation Team, said “it has been an absolute pleasure to have had this highly skilled Special Agent working within our team. They have contributed significantly to our workplace and have strengthened the close partnership we share with HSI. I speak on behalf of the entire Team when I thank them for their support, and I look forward to future opportunities between our agencies.”

“Protecting our most vulnerable is one of the biggest priorities of Homeland Security Investigations”, said Maria Kuylen, HSI Assistant Attaché in Aotearoa New Zealand. “HSI is honoured to work with our DIA partners in programs such as these. We are committed to operations throughout the world to identify and rescue child victims and to ensure the children in our communities are kept safe from online predators.”

During their time at DIA, the Special Agent supported investigations into offences relating to online child sexual exploitation and abuse and shared their experience in investigating internet crimes against children in the United States.

“I have really enjoyed the opportunity to pass on my experience, as well as learn from DIA’s Digital Child Exploitation Team. I have particularly enjoyed the way in which I have been looked after outside of the office and been warmly welcomed into people’s homes” the Special Agent said.

DIA’s Digital Child Exploitation Team work with domestic and overseas agencies to stop people from sharing objectionable material online. This is part of DIA’s mahi to make the digital world safer for everyone and supports iwi, hapū and communities across Aotearoa New Zealand to be safe, resilient and thriving.

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