Commonwealth workshops train 150 African judges in handling cybercrime cases
Judges from Ghana, Malawi and Zambia have praised the Commonwealth Secretariat’s training workshops, aimed at enhancing their skills in handling cybercrime cases.
Armed with the new skills and knowledge, judges will now be better equipped to protect their citizens against online crimes.
A team from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Cyber Unit was in the three countries from 27 October to 8 November 2023 to train more than 150 judicial officers.
During the workshops, participants engaged in simulations to gain a deeper understanding of cyber threats and the vulnerabilities of their citizens to online crimes, such as phishing, ransomware, scams, malware and artificial intelligence-enabled offences.
Drawing from successful practices from institutions, such as INTERPOL, the workshops provided insights into international, regional and national frameworks on protecting user data, combating computer crimes, and facilitating cross-border mutual legal assistance.
Judges and magistrates also learned how to apply internationally recognised good practices within their jurisdictions, sharpening their expertise to gather admissible electronic evidence and foster multi-state co-operation for the successful prosecution of cybercrimes.
‘A stronger voice’
Speaking at the workshop in Accra, Ghana’s Chief Justice, Her Ladyship, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, commended the Commonwealth team for the information they provided.
She acknowledged that documented cybercrime cases had cost Ghana about US $200 million between 2016 and 2018, expressing confidence that the workshop would help the country’s legal system adapt to the digital landscape to confront this pervasive issue.
Echoing Justice Torkornoo’s words, the Honourable Justice Elita Phiri Mwikisa, a High Court Judge in Zambia, described the training as an “eye-opening” examination of the international conventions addressing cybercrime issues.
She underscored the impact of computer and online sexual exploitation offences on vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, adding: “As a judge, it feels like I can now be a stronger voice for women and girls.”
During the workshop in Malawi, the country’s Chief Justice, the Honourable Rizine Robert Mzikamanda, commended the initiative, adding that it has equipped the judiciary to handle cybercrime cases more effectively.
Recent reports reveal that Africa loses more than US $3.5 billion to cybercrime, undermining development efforts across the continent.
Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General, Professor Luis Franceschi, who addressed the workshops remotely, highlighted the need for countries to remain vigilant against cyber threats by regularly updating their security protocols, practices, and policies.
“Our study shows that there is still a need to develop the capabilities of our judicial officers to effectively adjudicate cybercrime cases.
“With this training, you will now be able to draw on the expertise of our facilitators. We hope that your experience, coupled with the information you have garnered, will help you identify practical solutions to the many challenges we face in our countries in order to safeguard our citizens against online threats.”
The training workshops were supported by the United Kingdom’s International Development Office.
Established in 2018, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Cyber Unit has trained about 1,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judicial officials from 55 of the 56 Commonwealth member countries.
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