Breaking News: Cameroon Becomes 5th African Country to Sign Up to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence

Breaking News: Cameroon Becomes 5th African Country to Sign Up to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence

Colbert Gwain, Digital Rights Advocate

The state of Cameroon has been hailed for its determination and astuteness in joining the rest of the international community in combating cybercrime in real-time. This was during the closing ceremony of the Octopus Conference on Cooperation on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence that took place this Friday, December 15, 2023, in Bucharest, Romania and attended amongst others by the young MP for the Bafut/Tubah Constituency of the Mezam Division of the North West Region and head of the PGA National Group, Hon. Agho Oliver.

The Cameroon delegation to the all-too-important meeting to see Cameroon admitted to the treaty was made up of Tsadjia Celestine Roger, a diplomat at Cameroon’s External Relations Ministry, and Jean Yves Meo, representing the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. After the successful accession of Cameroon to this Council of Europe-inspired treaty, Hon. Agho Oliver took time off to thank Cameroon’s Head of State, President Paul Biya, Lejeune Mbella Mbella of External Relations, and Minette Libon of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications for bringing Cameroon to such wonderful moments at the international scene.

On hand to welcome Cameroon at the joyous moment were the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Bjorn Berge, and Alexander Seger, who is head of the Cybercrime Division at the Council of Europe. The state of Cameroon is joining the Budapest Convention following Law No. 2022/002 of 27 April 2022 on Cameroon’s accession to the treaty as authorized by parliament and ratified by the President of the Republic. Following its admission, the state of Cameroon is further expected to ratify the Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism as well as that on Enhanced Cooperation and Disclosure of Electronic Evidence.

The Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, is the first international treaty seeking to address internet and computer crime (cybercrime), by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations. Drawn up by the Council of Europe during its 109th session and adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2001, the Convention entered into force on July 1, 2004. As of December 14, 2023, only 68 states across the world had signed. Cameroon’s signing this December 15, 2023, brought the number of signatories to 69.

The Budapest Convention, it should be recalled, is the first multilateral legally binding instrument to regulate cybercrime. On March 1, 2006, the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime came into force. Those states that have ratified the additional protocol are required to criminalize the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems, as well as threats and insults motivated by racism and xenophobia.

The Budapest Convention that Cameroon has just signed also sets out such procedural law issues as expedited preservation of stored data, expedited preservation and partial disclosure of traffic data, production order, search and seizure of computer data, real-time collection of traffic data, and interception of content data. In addition, the Convention contains a provision on a specific type of trans-border access to stored computer data that does not require mutual assistance (with consent or where publicly available) and provides for the setting up of a 24/7 network for ensuring speedy assistance among the Signatory Parties. Further, as conditions and safeguards, the Convention requires the provision for adequate protection of human rights and liberties, including rights arising under obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other applicable international human rights instruments, and shall incorporate the principle of proportionality.

Cameroon became the fifth African country to sign the Convention after South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal.

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