East Africa coordinates cyberlaws

Region's crime statutes must harmonize by 2007

East African countries are coordinating efforts to pass cybercrime laws that would be similar to ones in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, according to government officials.

A common information security policy on cybercrime formulated by East African countries will serve as a foundation for new laws, said the Ugandan state minister for information, James Buturo.

The East Africa region includes Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, while the SADC region includes Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique.

The SADC region started harmonizing cybercrime laws last year to deal with cross-border criminals. The new laws allow member countries to prosecute cybercriminals despite where the crime was committed in the SADC region.

However, progress has been slow in several countries. Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Uganda have not proposed draft laws to their respective parliaments. Zambia, South Africa and Mauritius already have cyberlaws.

"Senior government officials responsible for drafting cyberlaws have already finished their job. What is remaining now is parliament approval and the formulation of harmonized cyber laws," Buturo said.

African parliamentary law approval occasionally occurs quickly. Zambia's parliament approved a computer misuse bill in one week and enacted it as law in three months.

The cybercrime laws are supposed to be regionally harmonized by the end of 2007.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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