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Press Release


  November 19, 2007

According to an Organization of American States (OAS) survey, 18 member countries do not have a unit invested with the authority and specific function to prosecute cyber-crimes. Based on responses to its survey, 12 countries have reported that they do have such a unit in place, the OAS has said.

These findings were unveiled today at the start of the two-day Fifth Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts in Cyber-Crime, at OAS headquarters in Washington, to look at developments in cyber-security strategies.

Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime, Howard Cox, welcomed the participants and highlights the progress to date, including an increased number of trained investigative organizations coming on-stream in OAS nations. The Assistant Deputy Chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice said several countries that before lacked cyber crime investigative or prosecutorial capabilities have improved and are now fully participating in the international effort to address cyber crime.

Creation of prosecution agencies featured among recommendations by the Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime, to combat the growing international problem of criminal activity carried out using electronic networks, explained Michael Thomas, an expert with the Office of Legal Cooperation, OAS Department of International Legal Affairs.

Thomas also reported on survey findings that showed 53 per cent of the countries (16) have cyber crime investigation units in place, whereas 14 countries do not have (or have not notified the OAS that they have) such a unit. He also reported that half of the responding countries (15) indicate they do have “substantive legislation which allows for the investigation and sanction of the various forms of cyber-crime.” As well, Thomas gave an update on the Inter-American Cooperation Portal on Cyber-Crime.

After being elected as the new Chair of the Group of Experts, Al Rees moved to preside over the meeting, noting its agenda, which stems from recommendations arising from the Fourth Meeting of two years ago. The current meeting is also addressing government-private sector cooperation as the experts agree that the private sector exerts significant control over much of the telecommunications infrastructure, and thus access to evidence of cyber crimes.

Jorge García González, Director of the OAS Office of Legal Cooperation, presented an overview of the background, objectives and development of the mandates of the Group of governmental Experts on Cyber Crime, while Juan José Golschtein, Director of the OAS Department of Information and Technology Services, spoke about the possible future development, including the Secure Electronic Communication System.

Among other topics, the cyber crime experts are considering international cooperation and assistance on cyber crime; results from training sessions on computer forensics; developments on the Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime; and recent developments in OAS member states.

The Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber-Crime was established in March 1999 by the Ministers of Justice or Ministers or Attorneys Generals of the Americas (REMJA) to address the global cyber-crime problem.

Reference: E-298/07