A Samoan delegation was in the Kingdom of Tonga last week for the second Annual Pacific Cybercrime Conference that focused on combating child abuse in the Pacific.
The conference also promoted regional Pacific nations to become parties to the International (Anti-Cybercrime) Budapest Convention, and enhance awareness and cooperation on issues such as skimming of cash flow machines, cyber harassment and cyberbullying.
In a press statement, Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff said in relation to Samoa, the conference dealt directly with two Cabinet and Ministerial directives:
1. To move Samoa towards signing the Budapest (Anti-Cybercrime) International Convention.
2. To actively block access to child pornography or exploitation websites in Samoa.
“Being a member of the Budapest Convention enables Samoa to receive logistical capacity building support and assistance from the Council of Europe,” explained Lemalu.
He also elaborated on the second directive saying that the awareness regarding the blocking of child exploitation is necessary to protect Samoa’s younger generation given that two million children are now affected worldwide.
“The Facebook representative at the conference confirmed indications on their records that persons in the Pacific including in Apia have attempted to access these sites, and that is a concern,” said Lemalu.
“We currently have Interpol assistance to monitor these sites but we are now in a better position to take this forward and actively block these sites with international assistance,” he continued.
With reference to law and order in Samoa, Police Commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil, who also part of Samoa’s delegation, confirmed that the Ministry of Police has also stepped in and actively investigated cyberbullying via text and have run awareness programmes on the negative effects of the internet for children and parents in the past.
Commissioner Fuiavailili further stated in the statement that investigations by the Ministry of Police is now underway based on warnings from regional Police links and highlighted the important community programmes that the Ministry of Police facilitates throughout Samoa.
“The Police run family safety awareness programmes about cybercrime and these programs will continue, as we encourage parents to watch over their children’s use of the internet,” added the Commissioner in the statement.
The conference was hosted by the Office of the Attorney General in Tonga in collaboration with the Australian A.G’s Department, the Apia based Pacific Island Legal Officers Network (P.I.L.O.N.) Secretariat and the Council of Europe.
Next week, the Office of the Attorney General in Samoa, will be hosting teams from the Counsel of Europe, Australian Attorney General’s Department, and the European Union in a legislative and capacity building programme for Government departments, Ministry of Police, Judiciary and Prosecution services.