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Authorities and government experts from the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) with responsibilities in legal cooperation against cyber-crime, met at OAS Headquarters on February 27 and 28, 2014, on the occasion of the Eighth Meeting of the Working Group on Cybercrime of the REMJA process (Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas).

This meeting was opened by the Secretary for Legal Affairs, Dr. Jean Michel Arrighi, who noted, in his introductory remarks, the global impact of cyber-crimes, and highlighted the steps that several OAS Member States have taken in the recent past, in order to better to better equip their governments and citizens in the face of these crimes.  In addition, Dr. Arrighi spoke of the progress made in hemispheric legal cooperation against cyber-crime in the context of the Working Group and the REMJA and referred to some of the challenges for cooperation in this field, such as the fact that these crimes are often “borderless” in nature, and that accordingly, adequate responses often require international cooperation.

Similarly, the OAS General Secretariat, through the Department of Legal Cooperation of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, presented a diagnostic of the status of the hemispheric legal cooperation in relation to cyber-crimes and developments taking place within the framework of the OAS/REMJA, including the Inter-American Cooperation Portal on Cyber-Crime and the information exchange Criminal Matters Network between the central authorities for cooperation and mutual assistance.  This information included, among others, a diagnostic of the substantive and procedural legislation that Member States have implemented in order to combat cyber-crimes, as well as mechanisms for requesting and obtaining mutual assistance related thereto; the existence of dedicated units for investigating and prosecuting cyber-crimes; as well as the results presented by the responding Member States, in terms of cyber-crime investigations, prosecutions and convictions.

The Working Group also had the opportunity to hear presentations by representatives of the Council of Europe and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as other international experts, building on decisions taken at previous meetings regarding the continued strengthening of information exchange and cooperation with other international organizations and agencies in the area of cyber-crime.

As the final point on the agenda, the Working Group adopted a set of recommendations setting out concrete actions to strengthen and consolidate hemispheric legal cooperation in preventing, prosecuting and punishing cyber-crimes, which will be considered by the Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General of the OAS Members States in the framework of REMJA X, to be held in 2014. 

Those recommendations call upon Member States to strengthen their existing cyber-crime legislation and mechanisms for international mutual assistance, create units to deal with cyber-crime investigations and prosecutions, continue to develop partnerships with the private sector, and consider joining the G8 24/7 Network, among others.  In addition, the recommendations contemplate, for the first time, expansion of the regional cyber-crime training program to include judges and magistrates of the OAS Member States.

For more information about the meeting and the actions of the Working Group on Cybercrime REMJA visit the Inter-American Cooperation Portal on Cyber-Crime.

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