- as gov’t finally signs Budapest Convention
The country’s decision to sign the Council of Europe Second Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention) will play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges presented by cybercrime, Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Albert Antwi-Boasiako, has said.
Mr. Antwi-Boasiako said the protocol provides law enforcement authorities with essential tools to safeguard Internet users, deliver justice to victims and strengthen cooperation between governments and service providers.
On June 28, 2023, Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, signed the protocol on the country’s behalf at the Council of Europe Headquarters in Strasbourg, France. This signing comes four years after Ghana ratified the convention, and establishes Ghana as the second African country, following Mauritius, to sign the protocol.
More than a legal document, the Budapest Convention is a framework that permits hundreds of practitioners from parties to share experiences and create relationships that facilitate cooperation in specific cases – including in emergency situations – beyond the specific provisions foreseen in the Convention.
“By extending this rule of law into cyberspace, the protocol provides law enforcement authorities with valuable tools to protect Internet users, deliver justice to victims and strengthen cooperation between governments and service providers.
“These developments mark Ghana’s commitment to enhancing international cooperation in combatting cybercrime and ensuring the effective disclosure of electronic evidence,” the Director-General told the B&FT.
Strengthening cybercrime investigations
According to the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), an amount of US$19million was lost to cyber crooks in 1,097 cases reported for 2020. The figure excludes cybercrime-related cases being investigated in other police jurisdictions countrywide at the time.
In the last five years, the unit further noted that US$240million has been stolen by cyberpunks under numerous schemes, with 2018 recording the highest amount of US$105million.
Cyber fraud is the most common type of crime within cyber-space, followed by sexual image abuse and various forms of intrusion ranking third.
Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful highlighted the importance of signing the protocol, saying it responds to challenges posed by cybercriminals by providing the tools for enhanced cooperation and disclosure of electronic evidence.
She further explained that: “Adopting the protocol will strengthen cybercrime investigation efforts and lead to more adjudication of cybercrime cases, globally”.
In her opening remarks at the signing ceremony, she expressed Ghana’s appreciation to the Council of Europe for its relentless efforts toward a global response to cybercrimes through strengthening international cooperation and providing an opportunity for member-states to work together effectively.
She further applauded the Council for the recent workshop and public consultation held on June 8 and 9, 2023 in Ghana, which created the platform for relevant stakeholders to deliberate and obtain a better understanding of the Protocol’s principles.
Full implementation of the articles
Dr. Antwi-Boasiako – who accompanied the minister to the signing ceremony with the Ag. Director, Capacity Building and Awareness Creation at the CSA, Alexander Oppong – pledged the country’s commitment to taking the “necessary steps toward full implementation of the articles in the protocol, and will continue to count on the Council of Europe in this partnership”.
The brief ceremony also witnessed Hungary signing the protocol. Cabo Verde also signed the Amending Protocol to the Convention for Protection of Individuals on Personnel Data as well as the Second Additional Protocol, while Slovak Republic also deposited the instrument of ratification of the First Additional Protocol.
Global Action on cybercrime enhanced project
Ghana is one of three hub countries in Africa, the others being Senegal and Mauritius, in recognition of its prior engagement with the Global Action on Cybercrime Enhanced (GLACY) project. The country’s designation as a hub country under the (GLACY) project highlights its role as a leader in cybersecurity.
The project is an extension of the Global Action on Cybercrime Extended (GLACY+) Project, with a projected duration of 30 months – from August 2023 to January 2026.
As a hub country, Ghana will spearhead training programmes for law enforcement agencies; conduct case simulation exercises; organise awareness workshops; and share best practices at regional and international levels.
Ghana will gain access to targetted advice on training strategies through its involvement in the GLACY-e project.