Project Tomas: Kick off meeting in Tirana
The kick off meeting of the TOMAS project, a collaborative initiative to tackle Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), was held on June 4th and 5th in Tirana. The meeting brought together representatives from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children from Serbia, Children’s Rights Centre Albania (CRCA), the Međaši organization from North Macedonia. Also in attendance were representatives from Eurochild.

The TOMAS project is designed as a proactive initiative addressing the issue of online child sexual exploitation in the Western Balkans. In today’s digital age, where children benefit from unlimited access to information and communication, the project emphasizes critical issues of child safety online and the growing problem of distributing CSAM. CSAM has become a significant problem due to the lack of control mechanisms for online content and behaviors harmful to children.

The TOMAS project underscores the urgency of addressing this issue through a coordinated response to the rising threat of online child sexual exploitation.

The meeting, moderated by Altin Hazizaj, opened with discussions on CSAM and the implications of forthcoming European regulations mandating all EU internet providers to monitor and remove harmful material. A key concern was the potential creation of a hub for storing CSAM in the Western Balkans, where local providers are not yet obligated to remove such content. In response, the participating organizations launched a joint project to align the regulations of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania with those of the EU.

During a closed session on June 5th, representatives from CNZD, CRCA, Međaši, and Eurochild agreed on the next steps for the TOMAS project. This meeting marks a significant step towards a collaborative approach to combating CSAM across the Western Balkans, ensuring the safety and protection of children online. The TOMAS project, running from December 2023 to November 2025, is part of the SMART Balkan project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It aims to strengthen participatory democracies and Euro-Atlantic integration in the Western Balkans.

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