Sri Lanka to be signatory to global CybercrimePrevention Convention - Prof. Tissa Vitharana
Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana said that Sri Lanka would soon become a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Cybercrime.
Participating at the inauguration of the two-day workshop on cybercrime organized by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the Council of Europe, the Minister said: "The computer is both a boon and a bane, but the law enforcement officers should be able to implement justice. For this, we need to have trained law enforcers.
For example with the case of electronic signatures, questions like ‘What techniques can be used to check the authenticity of the signature?’ ‘Can a signature be forged and if so how can forgery be detected?’ should be answered and we need to have a trained police force capable of handling these questions".
Societies worldwide are increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies (ICT) and thus vulnerable to threats such as cybercrime which constitutes an abuse of technology. To address this aspect Sri Lanka enacted the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007 which was brought into operational effect from July 15, 2008. Having done so, it has become necessary to enhance capacity amongst judges as well as investigators and prosecutors to apply this legislation in practice, he noted.
The investigation of cybercrime is difficult without the cooperation of internet service providers. In April 2008 a global conference on cybercrime organised by the Council of Europe adopted guidelines for such cooperation. Since most cybercrime offences occur across traditional territorial boundaries, Sri Lanka cannot remain isolated and must be in a position to cooperate internationally in an efficient manner. The Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe provides a framework for international cooperation which may be of benefit to Sri Lanka, Prof. Vitharana said.
ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) with the support of Council of Europe organized the two workshops to address these issues.
Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Suhada Gamlath stated: "Cybercrime has become a very real issue in Sri Lanka. The time has come to make Sri Lankan law on cybercrime consonant with international laws and standards and the workshop initiated by the Council of Europe will do just that. Cybercrime cannot be taken in isolation by one country. It is complex in nature and transcends boundaries. We are grateful to the Council of Europe for getting us on these international lines."
Council of Europe Head of Economic Crime Division and Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Alexander Seger, impressed the audience on the transnational nature of computer crimes, their severity and the enormity of the responsibility that could rest on the heads of divisions of organisations which use computers.
Attorney General, Priyasath Dep, PC, said that the workshop was a timely and relevant initiative by ICTA to keep the investigators, prosecutors and judges informed of the status quo.
Supreme Court Judge Saleem Marsoof said that criminals had evolved from the theft of money to the theft of information which was sensitive in most cases and more valuable than wealth. "Even though Sri Lanka currently has Protocols on combating crime like the protocol against communication that raises racial hatred, the new law is to help tackle these issues better. And we still need more training and awareness," Marsoof stated adding that the question of responsibility was a vital one when dealing with cybercrimes. Chairman, ICTA, Dr. P. W. Epasinghe issued us a guiding light in this two-pronged workshop the Professor summed up on a personal note what seems, perhaps, to be the only available eternal panacea for the problem of cybercrime: "I have no solution to the prevention of crime or legislators taking steps to keep on adding to the list of crimes by defining new crimes, but, I strongly believe that, as far as Sri Lanka is concerned, if more religious education right from the beginning is imparted while the leaders set the example, it will go a long way to reduce any crime."
ICTA’s Legal Advisor and Programme Director Jayantha Fernando summed up the inauguration session saying: "The Government has taken steps to enhance the transformation from a paper based to a paperless environment and provide greater access to information. This is manifested in the Electronic Transactions Act and several other legislative measures introduced in recent times.