8th December 2023
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South Sudan cabinet passes bill to prosecute ‘cyber criminals’

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Saturday, November 4, 2023

Information Minister Michael Makuei speaking to reporters after the council of Ministers meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir on Friday, 6th Oct 2023. (Photo: Charles Wote/Eye Radio).

The Council of Ministers on Friday passed the Cyber Security and Computer Misuse Bill 2023 reportedly to safeguard information systems and prosecute cyber criminals, amid previous concerns that the law will be used wrongly to target government critics.

Justice Minister Ruben Madol made a presentation on the bill during the cabinet meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir on November 3, 2023.

According to Information Minister Michael Makuei, the draft bill was first operationalized in 2021 as a Provisional Order by President Kiir.

But Makuei said it legally expired before it could be presented to the parliament.

“This bill was issued in 2021…… but it lapsed before it could be presented to the parliament and when it was presented to the parliament, it already lapsed in accordance with the provision of the law,” Makuei said.

He added that it has been passed this time and the Justice Minister directed to forward it to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) for consideration.

“So, the minister has to redrafted and put it in the form of the bill and this bill was presented today for the protection and control of cybercrime and computer misuse.”

“This law was also discussed and passed to next level and the minister of justices is directed to present it to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) for consideration.”

In September 2022, the Ministry of Justice established a court to crack down on crimes committed through computers and the internet.

The tribunal was formed to judge criminal cases including Unauthorized Data Transition, human and drug trafficking, computer hacking, espionage, economic sabotage, cyber terrorism, and sexual offense communication.

Others include publication of false information and indecent content, impersonation and other identity-related offenses as well as disclosure of passwords, among others.

However, a digital rights activist and a national lawmaker questioned the basis for establishing the cybercrimes court.

Kenyi Yasin Abdallah, a Digital Rights Consultant said last year, the court will contradict the national laws due to a lack of judicial oversight to obtain orders prior to gaining access to personal data and records.

“The reason why it will contradict our law is that that kind of court will lack judicial oversight such as the requirement to get court orders prior to gaining access to personal data and records,” said Yasin.

“It [court] will be misused to benefit the government in the case where data of targeted individuals who may be government critics is accessed or received under compulsion by the state or its agent.”

On his part, legislator Dr. Richard K Mulla also questioned the basis for establishing the court.

The reason why it was introduced must have been considered seriously. Crimes must of course be countered and how you counter crimes is by establishing courts,” Dr. Mulla told Eye Radio.







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