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Caribbean countries agree on Commonwealth action plan to combat cybercrime

21 March 2016

Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean have agreed on a joint action plan to enhance security and tackle escalating cybercrime.

The action plan sets out a framework to strengthen regional co-operation and help governments address cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It recognises the threat posed by cybercrime to citizens, particularly children, and recommends that countries upgrade their laws.

Priority areas in the action plan cover training, legislation, technical capacity and law enforcement. It calls on governments to “foster a culture of security”, to establish a regional network to gather electronic criminal evidence and to mount regular exercises known as ‘cyber drills’ to prepare for digital attacks.

"The uniqueness of the plan derives from its collaborative, country-led, process,” said Steven Malby, Legal Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat. “Together, Commonwealth Caribbean countries have identified their needs and presented them to the international community. The Commonwealth Secretariat and its partners have stepped up to the plate with technical support and assistance. Working together in this way leads to a safer and more secure cyberspace for all."

Recommendations are based on the findings of needs assessments carried out in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados. The studies found that cyberattacks are on the up in the region but few cases are reported and dealt with because of resource shortages and perceived reputational damage.

The plan states: “Implementing effective cybersecurity and preventing and combating cybercrime requires a multi-sectoral approach, involving the development of strategies, legislation, criminal justice and information communication technology expertise, awareness raising, and international cooperation, and involves political, private sector, and civil society leadership at the highest level.”

The plan is the result of a three-day workshop in Saint Lucia organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security. The event was attended by ministers, attorneys-general, ICT and telecommunications officials and international experts, Interpol, FBI and the Council of Europe.