Barbados plans to establish cybersecurity strategy to combat crime

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Barbados government announced plans on Monday to establish a national cybersecurity strategy to provide the island with “a robust cyber defence” as it seeks to deal with crime.

Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, addressing the first annual conference of the Department of Public Prosecutions, said the new framework would include a revision and revamping of legislation to provide the required security.

He told delegates to the conference that is being held under the theme “Strengthening our Capacity to Combat Cybercrimes and Other Organised Crimes” that the new strategy would involve work on the Computer Misuse Act, the Electronics Transactions Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Copyright Act.

Brathwaite also hinted at the possibility of new legislation being introduced, such as the Interception of Communications [Act], to strengthen efforts being undertaken.

“What we are faced with as a region, and as a country, is real. We have seen more cyber-related attacks on our government infrastructure and our private infrastructure. We must be on the cutting edge in terms of our defence,” he said, noting that the Telecommunications Unit was presently working to ensure Barbados had a more secure cybersecurity platform.

Brathwaite said Barbados also needed to do additional work in the area of transnational organised crime, and gave the commitment that the Civil Asset Forfeiture legislation would be before Parliament by the end of November.

However, he stressed that there was a need for greater co-operation among stakeholders, a deficiency which is already being addressed.

“My call is for greater co-operation for us here in Barbados and across the region. None of us can do it alone. The threats that we are faced with in terms of cybersecurity and transnational organised crime require a holistic approach nationally and a regional approach.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice, Sir Marston Gibson, noted that crime in Barbados had become organised and today’s criminal now had not just weapons, but also money deposited in the bank.

He warned that such criminals would use the computer to their advantage.

“[One] of the ways in which you would prevent cybercrime is by making sure your system is as cyber secure as possible,” he said, noting that security patches for computers should be kept up to date.

Over the next three days, members of the judiciary will discuss issues such as serious and organised crime in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; facilitating the presentation of evidence by use of technology in the courtroom; a case for recording police interviews to reduce false evidence and an introduction to cybercrime.

Acting Police Commissioner Oral Williams told the conference that he time has come for consideration to be given to witness protection legislation in Barbados and the provision of safe houses with the appropriate rules and regulations in place.

He said that not enough was done to protect vulnerable witnesses, and it was now necessary to enact appropriate legislation to deal with persons who directly or indirectly sought to influence witnesses, potential witnesses, law enforcement officers or court officials, by threats or injury.

“I think that at this stage we in Barbados are fortunate to have among us members of the public who are still willing to come forward and tell the courts what they heard or what they have observed.

“However, I have also been advised that there are other persons who come forward and give the information but are reluctant to give written statements to the police and they are unwilling to come to court for fear of reprisals,” he said, adding that this practice needed to be remedied with serious administrative and criminal sanctions.