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Senior Judge Urges Government to sign International Conventions on Cyber Security

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 01 NOVEMBER 2022: Senior Judge, Vui Clarence Nelson today urged the Government that Samoa should sign existing international conventions to protect and ensure safer cyber space usage.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson was speaking at the opening this morning of the Cyber Smart Samoa Week hosted by the Samoa Information Technology Association (SITA) the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and other partners to promote public awareness on the need for Samoa to be vigilant online.

As the guest speaker at the opening of the three day event, Justice Vui specifically made a call to the Government through the Minister of MCIT, Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo present at the event, about international conventions in place for cyber security and safer internet usage that Samoa have yet to sign.

“Currently, Samoa hasn’t adopted these laws yet because we didn’t sign these international conventions with other nations hence why I urged the government today to consider doing so as it’s important for Samoa,” he said.

“If we sign these conventions, we will receive numerous financial and technical assistance from European governments and secondly, we will receive a lot of assistance in methods and ways  to educate people better about cybercrime and ways to protect the public from cybercriminal activities especially children.”

The European Convention Vui mentioned is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.

He emphasized that cyber crimes have increased in the country and more concerning for children and teenagers who have been put in prison too early as the result of cyber influence.

He added that cyber crimes have increased in Samoa but the laws are out dated and there is not enough action being done to prevent such crimes.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson

Delegates and stakeholders at the opening of the three day Cyber Smart Week this morning.

“There are laws already in place but what we need is to put more emphasis on these laws and also, the laws are out dated and need to be updated,” he said.

“Secondly, the laws should go together with actions and training with the police sector, Ministry of Justice and Courts, and the public regarding the crimes and what they mean and cost like posting insulting words on Facebook which is simple but people do not know it is actually a crime so the public should understand these better especially our children in using the internet.”

Minister Toelupe Onesemo in his key remarks acknowledged the collaboration of American Samoa through the Atoa Samoa talks in joining the Cyber Smart Week in Samoa and collaboration on ways to lessen cybercrimes in both countries.

The Cyber Smart Week includes training for the technical community to collaborate on how to stay safe online and is also an opportunity to promote the role of the Samoa Cyber Emergency Response Team (SamCERT) in the community.

The main event is a Smack Hackathon where businesses and academia are invited to participate in a coding activity where the winner will develop the SamCERT website.

The competition is tenfold in terms of learning and promoting best practices on developing a secure website and software development.

The Government of Samoa acknowledges its development partners support and assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia (DFAT) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand (MFAT), CERTNZ, Global Forum of Cyber Expertise (GFCE) and the Samoa Information Technology Society (SITA).

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in its leading role, promotes and supports the overall vision in the Cybersecurity Strategy: “For all citizens of Samoa, tourists, businesses, and Government to enjoy the full benefits of a secure and resilient cyber space.”

MCIT intends to celebrate the Cyber Week annually in their calendar of events.