On the 1st of September 2015, the Budapest Cybercrime Convention enters into force in Sri Lanka. This is a historic ICT policy achievement, because Sri Lanka becomes the first country in South Asia (and 2nd Country after Japan in Asia) to become a state party to this European Cybercrime Convention.
The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime (ETS 185 of 2001), is the only available international treaty effectively addressing Internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing criminal justice cooperation among nation states to effectively combat the threat against cybercrime. Earlier this year, on 23rd February, the Council of Europe invited Sri Lanka to join this important Convention and on 29th May 2015 Sri Lanka deposited the Instrument of Accession with the Council of Europe. As per the Notification of Accession published by the Council of Europe, the Convention is declared to enter into force in respect of Sri Lanka on 1st September 2015 under Article 36 thereof.
According to the records of the Council of Europe, this was the fastest ever accession to the Cybercrime Convention recorded by any Country. Accession was no easy task to accomplish. But it was achieved because our primary legislation, namely the Computer Crimes Act No. 24 of 2007 and several policies adopted in recent times were aligned with this Cybercrime Convention.
Cybercrime offences are transnational and multi-jurisdictional in nature. Therefore, the effective fight against cybercrime requires any Country to obtain evidence stored on computer systems and networks in other countries. The Budapest Cybercrime Convention is the only instrument which facilitates international cooperation to this effect. The Convention will greatly enhance the gathering of electronic evidence, the investigation of cyber laundering and other serious crimes. Accession to the Convention will significantly help in the successful investigation of Cybercrime offences. It will also help in law enforcement and judicial cooperation at international level, while ensuring adherence to human rights safeguards in the investigation process.
Joining this Convention will help Sri Lanka to become a South Asian hub for cybercrime enforcement and this can lead to the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to train law enforcement professionals on cybercrime issue. As a first step in this direction, the US Department of Justice hosted its first ever Cybercrime & Electronic Evidence Workshop last week.