Empowering Ghana’s Cybersecurity: Signing the Budapest Convention to Combat Cybercrime

Ghana’s decision to sign the Council of Europe Second Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, known as the Budapest Convention, has been hailed as a crucial step in combating cybercrime, according to Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA).

The protocol equips law enforcement authorities with vital tools to protect Internet users, ensure justice for victims, and enhance cooperation between governments and service providers. Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, signed the protocol on June 28, 2023, at the Council of Europe Headquarters in Strasbourg, France, marking a significant milestone. Ghana becomes the second African country, following Mauritius, to endorse the protocol after ratifying the convention four years ago.

The Budapest Convention serves as a Framework

Beyond its legal significance, the Budapest Convention serves as a framework that enables parties to share experiences and foster cooperation in specific cases, even in emergency situations, surpassing the convention’s predetermined provisions.

Director-General Antwi-Boasiako stressed that extending the rule of law into cyberspace empowers law enforcement authorities to safeguard Internet users, provide justice to victims, and foster collaboration between governments and service providers. The move reflects Ghana’s commitment to strengthening international cooperation in combating cybercrime and ensuring the effective handling of electronic evidence.

Highlighting the severity of cybercrime, the Cybercrime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) reported losses of US$19 million in 1,097 cases reported in 2020, excluding cases investigated in other police jurisdictions. Over the past five years, cyberpunks have stolen a staggering US$240 million through various schemes, with the highest amount recorded in 2018.

The Protocol Addresses Challenges posed by Cybercriminals

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful emphasized that signing the protocol addresses challenges posed by cybercriminals and strengthens cooperation and electronic evidence disclosure. She praised the Council of Europe’s efforts in promoting global responses to cybercrime through enhanced international cooperation and workshops facilitating a better understanding of the protocol’s principles.

Dr. Antwi-Boasiako pledged Ghana’s commitment to fully implementing the protocol’s articles, expressing gratitude to the Council of Europe for its support. Hungary also signed the protocol during the ceremony, while Cabo Verde signed the Amending Protocol to the Convention for Protection of Individuals on Personnel Data and the Second Additional Protocol. The Slovak Republic deposited the instrument of ratification for the First Additional Protocol.

Ghana’s designation as one of three hub countries in Africa, alongside Senegal and Mauritius, in the Global Action on Cybercrime Enhanced (GLACY) project underscores its leadership in cybersecurity. The project, running from August 2023 to January 2026, will involve Ghana spearheading training programs, conducting case simulations, organizing awareness workshops, and sharing best practices at regional and international levels. Through its involvement in the GLACY-e project, Ghana will gain targeted advice on training strategies.

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