Gambia government has embraced a global advisory mission backed by the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe for the establishment of legislative measures needed for the investigation of cyber-related crimes.
The desire for legal provisions on cyber-crime and electronic evidence in a court of law was acknowledged by stakeholders in the ICT, security and legal sectors at the opening of a three-day capacity building workshop on cyber-crime.
It got under way on Wednesday at a local hotel in Banjul, and the training course is being executed by cyber-crime experts from Europe, within the framework of the Global Action on Cyber Crime Extended (GLACY+) Joint project of the EU.
Gambia’s Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Demba Ali Jawo, speaking at the event outlined the government’s position in the fight against cyber-crime.
He said the new government in Banjul has recently boosted internet connectivity in the country through Long Term Evolution network (4GLTE) and extension of fiber cables from the national telecom giant Gamtel, and that there was a need to institute legal mechanism to watch over cyber criminals.
Gambian telecoms companies had in the past experienced huge loss of revenue to cyber criminals, who used sophisticated network-bypassing systems and stole thousands of airtime minutes before being noticed.
He cited the vulnerability of telecoms companies to such crimes, especially the state-owned GSM company, Gamcel, which relied on foreign expertise for it billing system.
Noting that cyber-crime has been a global problem, Minister Jawo declared his ministry’s willingness in the advocacy for legislation to avert cyber-crime in the country, in line with the Budapest Convention, the rule of law and human rights, including data protection standards.
The EU ambassador to The Gambia, Atila Lajos, was at the event, and acknowledged the significant role ICTs play in the socio-economic development of any nation.
However, despite the benefits derived from IT product and services, Lajos said, a suitable legislative approach was needed to fight cyber-crime as a global phenomenon.
He announced that the EU remains committed to supporting the harmonization of domestic legislation in The Gambia relating to cyber-crime and electronic evidence.
According to officials at the workshop; similar interventions under the GLACY+ project have yielded dividends in many West African countries including Senegal, Cape Verde and Nigeria, with legislation amended in many other countries.
At the end of the three-day capacity building forum, participants are expected to have the capacity to draft the legislation necessary for to combatting cyber-crime and related crimes in the country.