National Assembly Commits Bill That Seeks to Punish Cyber Crime

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The National Assembly of the Gambia has on Monday 18th March 2024, committed a bill entitled Cyber Crime Bill 2024 to the Assembly Business Committee (ABC)for committal

Tabling the Bill, the Digital Economy Minister, Ousman Bah said “The cyber-crime bill seeks to protect confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer systems, program and data. It also seeks to prevent unlawful use of computer system, facilitate prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of cyber-crime”.

Minister Bah also informed the legislature that the bill seeks to enable the collection of evidence in electronic form of a criminal offence.

He added: “The bill also aims to facilitate international cooperation for the purpose of investigation, or proceeding concerning criminal offences related to computer system or data or for the collection of evidence form of criminal offence”.

The bill was first read in the legislature on 4th March 2024 and Monday 18th March 2024 was appointed for the second reading in line with Standing Order 66(2).

Digital Economy Minister Bah, also told the assembly that the internet is a vital platform interconnected systems of computers or computer network providing access to information and services relevant to basic and essential human needs.

“These services or even product cross-cutting and include businesses transaction, governance, security, entertainment, education, litigation, agriculture, health among others”, he said.

He stated that due to robustness and interconnected nature of the internet, criminals have resorted to using these mediums to target people, organizations and even the state to commit economic crimes, intellectual property theft and cyber war, espionage and others.

He averred that criminals also take advantage of the internet because of its borderless nature, adding that a criminal setting outside of the Gambia can perpetrate crimes within the Gambia, through the use of internet and run scot-free, because of its lack of comprehensive cyber-crime laws.

He said that with a comprehensive cybercrime law that facilitates international cooperation, suspected criminals can be pursued in a different judiciary.

He said it is on this basis that the government of the Gambia, through the former Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, received support in 2019 from the Council of Europe through the Global Action of Cybercrime extended galaxy and Commonwealth Secretariat for the drafting of cybercrime bill.

He elaborated that this was reviewed by the EU-ECOWAS Organized Crime West African Respond on Cyber Security and Cyber Crime project, and the cybercrime committee was constituted to scrutinize the draft bill to ensure it is aligned with the best practices and also take into consideration the context of the Gambia.

After a series of national and international consultations, with key stakeholders and public comments, the bill was redrafted and realigned by the Justice Ministry, approved by cabinet and presented for amendment by the legislature.

After moving the bill during the second reading, lawmakers committed the bill to the Assembly Business Committee for committal to the relevant committee of the legislature.

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