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DPP blasts legislative blockers of cybercrime law

Published:Friday | December 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
DPP Paula Llewellyn-File

Neville Graham, Business Reporter

Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn has blasted lawyers with seats in Parliament, who she says are standing in the way of legislative changes urgently needed to prosecute cybercrimes.

Llewellyn says the present arrangements for tackling crime perpetuated online through computers are out of date and not in keeping with technological advances, given the difficulty in securing convictions.

"In order to prove a case, the prosecutor has to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt ... and we can only prove the case if we present evidence that is available, cogent, reliable and admissible," the DPP said as she addressed the third annual Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Conference, which wrapped up in Kingston on Wednesday.

Llewellyn said new legislation needed to fight criminal activity through computer-generated evidence is being piloted through Parliament by Justice Minister Mark Golding, but is meeting with stiff resistance from those who may have a vested interest.

"It is not having an easy passage in Parliament because, clearly, on both sides of the House - Upper and Lower House - you have my worthy members of the defence bar who unfortunately, I believe, may or may not be undergoing, not an attack of chik-V but something almost as dangerous - it's called myopia," the DPP said on the final day of the three-day confab.

She outlined the difficulty in using computer-generated evidence, saying prosecutors are required to prove that the computer from which the evidence was collected was working at the time the crime was committed. She called for a change in the law that would make it easier to secure convictions, noting that other countries have moved far ahead of Jamaica.

"In most other countries and also in the Caribbean, amendments have been done years ago, where it is a presumption that the computer is in good working order ... and if the defence is saying otherwise, then the evidential burden shifts to them to prove that the computer was not," Llewellyn said.

She called on auditors and compliance officers in financial institutions to be advocates in the cause to get legislators on board to pass laws that will help in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

She was not definitive in the overall effect of the outdated laws but insisted that anecdotal evidence indicates that it is proving to be a major burden on financial investigations and an impediment to securing convictions.