Sunday, April 10, 2011

194 computer crime investigations ongoing but no indictments yet

As many as 194 investigations under the Computer Crime Act No.24 of 2007 are ongoing although indictments have not been filed to date, Justice Ministry Secretary Suhada Gamlath last week told an international workshop in Colombo on Cooperation against Cyber Crime in South Asia. However, he pointed out that this was not unusual, saying this is the experience of many countries. Hence the need for further collective effort at domestic, regional and international level to give teeth to the law, especially through further work on electronic evidence as well as training of judges and prosecutors, he said.

The workshop was jointly hosted by the Council of Europe and the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA).

The Secretary who was the guest of honour at the inauguration of the workshop at the Hilton Colombo Residence said that the ICTA was a source of strength to the Justice Ministry. He commended the staff of ICTA and in particular Mr. Jayantha Fernando, Director/Legal Advisor, towards the formulation of the Computer Crime Act adding that more work remains to be done.
In his address of welcome ICTA Chairman, Professor P. W. Epasinghe, said: "For countries of South Asia – as for societies in other regions of the world - information and communication technologies provide unprecedented opportunities for social and economic development. However, as societies rely on ICT, at the same time they become vulnerable to risks such as cybercrime. Cooperation at all levels - interagency, public-private, international - is a crucial element of the response.

"In Asia a number of countries, such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have taken or are in the process of taking steps, including the strengthening of their cybercrime legislation in line with the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and of relevant instructions such as units responsible for high-tech investigations or incident response to face the challenge.

In Sri Lanka ICTA not only helped in the formulation of legislation but also established expert units, such as Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Response Team (SLCERT).The aim of the workshop is to enhance the capacity of the countries of South Asia to cooperate internationally against cybercrime ".

While Justice R. K. S. Suresh Chandra Judge of the Supreme Court, was a Special Guest of Honour, Telecommunication and IT Ministry Secretary Nimal Atukorala, Solicitor General Priyasath Dep, P.C., Head of Economic Crime Division of Council of Europe Alexander Seger and ICTA Director / Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando were also present.

The participants in the workshop included representatives from several South Asian countries - Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They came together at this workshop to enhance their capacity for cooperating against cybercrime.

The workshop provided a useful opportunity for assessing the cybercrime legislation of countries concerned . Compatibility of cybercrime legislation with international standards is a pre-requisite for international cooperation, it was pointed out.

``Therefore assessment of this compatibility of participating countries was among the specific objectives of the workshop" A senior ICTA spokesman explained.

The participants shared their experience and promoted international police and judicial cooperation including accession to agreements such as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The ICTA spokesman said that another specific objective of the workshop was to promote the interagency and public cooperation at domestic levels.

He noted that the participants included representatives from the various countries with responsibility for subjects like cybercrime legislation, high-tech crime investigations, international police and /or judicial cooperation and incident response (Computer Emergency Response Team [CERT]) etc.

Speakers and representatives of countries outside the South Asian region including parties to the Budapest Convention were also present and shared their experience.

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