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Belize discusses cybercrime with Mexico, El Salvador, and others at Regional Forum of the Americas

GeneralBelize discusses cybercrime with Mexico, El Salvador, and others at Regional Forum of the Americas

Photo: Hon. Ramon Cervantes

Members of parliament, including Foreign Affairs Minister of State, Hon. Ramon Cervantes, met with other members of FOPREL to discuss cybersecurity.

by Khaila Gentle

San José, Costa Rica, Thurs. Nov. 10, 2022

On November 7th and 8th, the Forum of Presidents of Legislative Powers of Central America, the Caribbean Basin, and Mexico (FOPREL) convened in Costa Rica to explore the role of legislators in ensuring there are legal mechanisms in place to properly prosecute cybercrimes and cases involving electronic evidence. The meeting, dubbed the Regional Forum of the Americas on Cooperation in the Matter of Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence, took place in the city of San José and was attended by representatives from national assemblies across the region, including El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, and Puerto Rico.

Representatives from Belize present at the forum included Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Hon. Ramon Cervantes; and Cayo West area representative, Jorge Espat.

Both men attended a workshop titled, “The role of criminal justice policy makers and legislators in the fight against cybercrime: when policy meets practice”. They also took part in a forum focusing on Citizen Security and Administration of Justice, as well as the Sixth Meeting of the Commission on Financial, Economic and Budgetary Affairs.

At the opening of the conference, Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, president of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica said, “In addition to having the best treaties and the best legislation, we need to have the best digital infrastructure, as well as having the human resources in cybercrime. It is also important to remember that FOPREL members, at the seventh ordinary meeting in 2019, made a commitment to promote and support legislators in adhering to the Convention on Cybercrime.”

Along with FOPREL, the two-day meeting was made possible by the Council of Europe, the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, and the Public Ministry of Costa Rica.

According to Alexander Seger, Executive Secretary of the Cybercrime Convention Committee and Head of the Cybercrime Programme Office of the Council of Europe, cybercrime incidents have increased in number and grown in sophistication over the years—a phenomenon that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ransomware has become a major threat to critical infrastructure, to businesses and to democratic institutions, as experienced also by Costa Rica earlier this year. An effective criminal justice response with rapid access to electronic evidence stored in foreign, multiple or unknown jurisdictions is needed,” he said.

A release from FOPREL noted that, to end the work meeting, representatives in attendance approved a draft resolution known as the “Resolution on legislative actions for cooperation in matters of cybercrime and electronic evidence”.

On November 10 and 11, an international conference on the promotion of the role of women in facing the challenge of cybercrime will be held.

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