Financial Times

Sri Lanka to sign international cybercrime prevention convention

Sri Lanka would soon become a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Cybercrime, Science and Technology Minister Professor Tissa Vitharana said last week.

Speaking at the inauguration of a two-day (27-28) workshop on cybercrime organized by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and the Council of Europe, he said,”The computer is both a boon and a bane but the law enforcement officers should be able to implement justice.”

Picture shows Head of Economic Crime Division and Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Council of Europe, Alexander Seger addressing the inaugural session of the cybercrime workshop. Seated (from left) are ICTA Programme Director and Legal Advisor Jayantha Fernando, Supreme Court Judge Saleem Marsoof, Science and Technology Minister Professor Tissa Vitharana, ICTA Chairman Professor P. W. Epasinghe and Attorney General and President’s Advisor, Priyasath Dep.

He said for this “we need 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.”

Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Suhada Gamlath said cybercrime has become a very real issue in Sri Lanka and the time had come to make Sri Lankan law on cybercrime consistant with international laws and standards.

Head of Economic Crime Division and Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe, Alexander Seger spoke 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: “Cybercrime is the most transnational crime in the world. Cybercrime can entail persons in countries far apart, say Canada and Sri Lanka. Murder could be committed through the use of the computer and evidence for murder could be collected through the computer. As far as responsibility is concerned it can, for example, happen that the head of a division of an organisation which uses computers is called upon to answer queries on cybercrime committed by his subordinate staff,” he said.

Mr Seger explained that the rise in the use of ICT had led to increased dependency and vulnerability to ICT-related crimes and stated that the Computer Crimes Act of Sri Lanka was a very good piece of legislation in harmony with international good practice and that it was fully in line with other international laws.

Supreme Court Judge Saleem Marsoof also speaking at the function stated that criminals have 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,” Mr. Marsoof stated adding that the question of responsibility was a vital one when dealing with cybercrimes.

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