Wednesday 27 April 2011, Nuku´alofa, Tonga - Threats originating from cybercrime or computer-related crime are just as real to Pacific Island nations as any other country in the world and therefore need to be addressed through appropriate national cybercrime policies and legislation

This was the main message delivered to delegates at the Pacific Regional Workshop on Cybercrime, which commenced in Nuku´alofa, Tonga today (27th of April).

The workshop aims to support Pacific Island nations in strengthening their cybercrime legislation in line with international standards such as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime.

Addressing over 70 delegates at the workshop, Prime Minister of Tonga Lord Tu?ivakano said, 'Lack of resources and capacity are familiar limitations in our joint efforts in the Pacific to provide adequate measures against this rather international criminal act.'

'Since threats can originate anywhere around the globe, the challenges are inherently international in scope, and it seems that the solution requires international cooperation, investigative assistance, and common substantive and procedural provisions,' he added.

Lord Tu?ivakanoalso outlined several factors that were critical to achieving the objectives of this workshop. These included a comprehensive national cyber security plan, strong commitment and leadership by governments to fight misuse of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by enacting dedicated laws, clear organisational responsibility for enforcement activities and making available adequate resources to enforcement authorities for monitoring purposes.

Andrew Warnes from the Attorney General's Office in Australia, reiterating the Australian Government's commitment to work collaboratively with its Pacific neighbours in this area, said that the Internet had made it significantly easier for criminals to operate from abroad, especially from those countries where regulations and enforcement arrangements were weak.

'For this reason, it is critical that laws are harmonised, or at least compatible, to allow for cooperation internationally to tackle this growing problem,' he said.

Alexander Seger from the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, emphasised that the internet rights and freedom go hand in hand with the rule of law. He underlined the benefits of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime for countries of the Pacific.

'This treaty serves as a guideline for countries to strengthen their legislation and as a framework for efficient international cooperation,' he explained. 'The cybercrime legislation of Tonga is already largely in line with the Budapest Convention.'

Siaosi Sovaleni, Manager of the Pacific ICT Outreach Programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) brought attention to the Framework for Action on ICT for Development in the Pacific, which highlights addressing cybercrime in the Pacific as a regional priority.

'This ICT framework was not only endorsed by Pacific ICT ministers but also the Pacific Forum Leaders in August last year,' he said. 'We have the political support and it is now up to you and me to implement this decision. I do hope that this workshop is not the end but the beginning of our efforts to ensure we have the appropriate legislative framework and tools to make ICT use safer, especially for our Pacific communities.'

The three-day workshop is organised by SPC in partnership with the Australian Government, the Council of Europe and the Government of Tonga.