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Cyber crime decree

Margaret Wise
Friday, December 11, 2009

THREE new decrees will come into force in February, including a Sentencing Decree, to set guidelines for the courts.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions John Rabuku said that for the first time, cyber offences would be criminalised.

He said strong cyber laws were important as presently, corporate victims shouldering vast monetary burdens had no course of redress.

Speaking at the 15th Annual Prosecutors Convention, Mr Rabuku said the provisions of the Crimes Decree would cover a whole range of offences and answer a majority of past challenges.

He cited a case where the police were powerless to act when an offender "caused much havoc" in his company's computer system and then migrated overseas, only to mock police via email, scoffing at attempts to investigate them.

"He mocked them with the knowledge that there exists no law in Fiji that criminalises his actions," Mr Rabuku said.

He cited five cyber cases that could not be prosecuted because of the absence of legislation.

These offences included a stolen customer database, email hacking, alteration of accounts data, pornography and unauthorised access.

"The Crimes Decree 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Decree 2009 will replace the existing Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The Sentencing and Penalties Decree will be totally new."

"The challenge is not in defining and recognising what amounts to computer crime but rather the identification and investigation of likely suspects and identifying the relevant jurisdictions."

He said at the very least, Fiji will now criminalise access without authority even in the absence of any other computer offence. Therefore, to simply hack into a computer system is an offence, even if no data is modified.

"Interesting also are the provisions that any unauthorised access is a criminal offence no matter where in the world one commits the offence. The Decree has provided wide geographical powers to the jurisdictions of our local courts."

Under the new laws cyber offenders are liable to prison sentences ranging from two to ten years.





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