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The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today highlighted the importance of labeling and tackling cybercrime as a scourge of a transnational nature that “poses legal, specialization, training-related challenges as well as assistance and cooperation among the States.”

At the opening session of the Seventh Meeting of the Working Group on Cyber-crime of the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA), the OAS Secretary General stressed the “paradox” that the rapid change of technology and telecommunications poses in comparison with its use for negative purposes. He said that these advances allow for “unimaginable developments to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world, including: education, trade, industrial development, research, and the progress of science,” but at the same time, he warned that “it can become a powerful weapon that produces serious economic and security damages.”

“We are facing criminal methods with unexpected characteristics, that bring in new problems, giving the fact that to these crimes are held with no borders, no customs, no passports, no visas, and there is no need to even be in the country where the crimes are committed,” highlighted the highest representative of the hemispheric organization, who in this context made special emphasis to the need for strengthening international legal cooperation against cybercrime given its trans-boundary nature.

The Secretary General Insulza noted the OAS efforts to support countries in this struggle, through mechanisms such as conducting regional training workshops for the development of legislation, and to strengthen international legal cooperation; the creation of special units in fourteen countries on the continent to investigate and prosecute such crimes, the consolidation of the Inter-American Cooperation Portal on Cyber-Crime, the development of a regional survey on the subject, and the progress accomplished in the collaboration with other agencies and international bodies as well as with the private sector.

“All these steps are crucial to deal with cyber criminals through international cooperation, but if we want to get better results, our priority remains to continue strengthening the legal frameworks in our countries and ensuring the protection of other interests that are equally legitimate, such as access to information, copyright, and adequate protection of privacy,” he said.

The Seventh Meeting of the Working Group on Cybercrime, which took place on February 6 and 7, 2012 at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, was chaired by U.S. representative Rodolfo Orjales, and included in its agenda topics such as: the progress made on the implementation of the Comprehensive Inter-American Cyber-security Strategy, cooperation between authorities responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime, the existing international legal frameworks in this area and recent developments at national level.

The Working Group, established in 1999, is the principal hemispheric forum to strengthen international cooperation in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, facilitate the exchange of information and experience among its members and make necessary recommendations for collaboration among OAS Member States and with other organizations and mechanisms. Additional information is available here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.


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