The Minister for the Interior, Mr. Ambrose Dery, has called for the strengthening of collaboration amongst ECOWAS Member States to address issues of cross-border criminality.

The Minister made the call on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at the opening ceremony of the 4-day Joint Introductory Judicial Training of Trainers Course on Cyber-crime and Electronic Evidence.

According to him, Joint capacity building programmes, intelligence sharing among investigative agencies and judicial cooperation are areas that required commitment among ECOWAS nations to address regional cyber-crime challenges.

He further advocated for the enforcement of the provisions of the ECOWAS Directive on cyber-crimes (Directive C/DIR/1/08/11 of 19 august 2011 on Cyber-crime)

“I therefore task ECOWAS to take a leading role in operationalizing the Directive especially in the area of cyber-crime prosecutions. We need to do this alongside the Budapest Convention” he said.

The Minister indicated that, growth in the use and development of information and communications technologies could be directly linked to the rise in crimes committed against or with the internet and computer systems thus making cyber-crime one of the most pervasive crimes committed in recent times.

He noted that, the ECOWAS region was experiencing its fair share of both cyber-dependent and cyber-facilitated crimes such as hacking into protected systems, website defacements, online fraud, and business scams.

He further added that, cross-border movement of perpetrators of cyber-crime has also been recorded by intelligence and security agencies, highlighting the need of international cooperation to address this problem through capacity building and regional cooperation.

“Intra agency collaboration in country as well as sub-regional and international cooperation is required to effectively address investigations and prosecutions challenges.” He said.

He noted it was to this end that, the course was being organized to raise awareness on international standards to strengthen the response of criminal justice authorities to the growing threat of cyber-dependent and cyber-facilitated crimes.

He alluded to the fact that, the judicial training programmes on cyber-crime and electronic evidence have proven to be an effective mechanism of ensuring that judges, magistrates and prosecutors acquire and maintain sufficient knowledge to fulfill their roles effectively.

The Minister therefore challenged the participants to use the skills they would acquire from the training to solve cyber-crime cases and also to train their colleagues when they return to their various institutions and countries.

He indicated that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had also begun the process of integrating the Council of Europe training programmes on cyber-crime and electronic evidence into the training programmes at the Police Training College with the expectation that all police officers would go through the programme once they take courses at the college as part of the regular and promotion related training programmes for police officers.

The therefore urged the Judiciary Training Institute to do same.

The four-day event is one of the benefits Ghana has received from being a member of the Budapest Convention. The Introductory Training of Trainers Course for Anglophone ECOWAS countries, namely Ghana, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria is a joint-project of the Council of Europe, the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission with support from the National Cyber Security Secretariat of the Ministry of Communications, the GLACY+ National Team and representatives from the judicial institutions.