Chairman of the Law Reform Commission Sir David Simmons wants to see promised cybercrime legislation going before Parliament before the end of the year.
This, he said, would put the country in a position to accede to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, just over two decades after that international treaty opened for ratification.
And Attorney General Dale Marshall has given the assurance that the Government is committed to this.
The issue of cybercrime came under the microscope on Monday as the Law Reform Commission and members of the judiciary and magistracy joined international cybercrime specialists and other stakeholders to examine the draft of a new cybercrime law.
Addressing the opening of the three-day workshop at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Sir David said strengthening cybercrime legislation and capacity building were critical, as “cybercrime can have an impact on the core societal values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.
He said the crucial Cybercrime Bill (2023) and a bill to amend the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Chapter 148 were in the works.
“These bills are in their final stages of drafting. However, we wish to ensure that any amendments that may originate out of the workshops over the next three days will be of such a nature as will enable us to make any amendments that will be necessary and consequential before the Attorney General takes the bills to Cabinet and ultimately to Parliament. We hope that the bills may reach Parliament by the end of this calendar year,” said Sir David.
“That is one of the aims of the Law Reform Commission – that we have law of such a nature and quality that will allow us easily to accede to the Budapest Convention.”
The Budapest Convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.
Six months ago, the Attorney General announced that new cybercrime legislation was on the way to replace the Computer Misuse Act (2005).
He told the modest gathering on Monday that the workshop represented a progression in Barbados’ efforts to have laws in place to adequately address cybercrime.
“We know that it is quite common for individuals to groom children using computer technology . . . . So, in a sense, we are here today because the pervasiveness of criminal activity, using computer technology, has been viewed in a stark light,” said Marshall.
“As a matter of government policy, I can say that the Government is committed to seeing this legislation being brought swiftly to Parliament and we are also committed to ratifying the Budapest Convention,” he assured.
Lauding the Law Reform Commission for its work, Marshall admitted that sometimes lawmakers were guilty of enacting legislation “because of a burning social need” without consulting those who have to “deal with it, see it through the courts, investigate and charge people”.
“I am very happy that in this instance we are taking the time to consult with the stakeholders,” he said.
Day one of the workshop was open to members of the judiciary and magistracy, while officers from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and members of the relevant departments of the Barbados Police Force will participate on day two. Day three will include interaction with service providers.