Gov’t launches first ‘cybercrimes court’

By William Madouk Garang

Anyone having grievances related to cybercrimes, misuse of computers and devices can now submit petition to cybercrimes specialized public persecution attorneys and the court.

This new development came following the launching of Cybercrimes Specialized Court in Juba on Monday, that will be run by two public attorneys who are well-versed with Information Technology (IT) and handling cybercrime threats.

Perpetrators will be punished using ‘Cybercrimes and Computer Misuse Provisional Order, 2021’ that was assented into law by President Salva Kiir in May last year.  

Acting Undersecretary in the Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs, Dr. Gabriel Isaac Awow said the cybercrimes court was officially launched, and people can now report their cases.

“It’s very important to inform our people that the Ministry of Justice have put in place the legal institution that will investigate and prosecute the cases of cybercrimes and the cases of IT,” Awow noted.

“Whether whatsapp, messenger, and the rest of social media that we have – if somebody transmitted or communicated something which can affect other person, we are telling you that this is the place where you come and submit your claims,” he continued.

Dr. Awow said the law will be practical to anyone found guilty whether a national or a foreigner, asserting that court has right to prosecute and investigate cases within the country’s margin.  

He explained that many crimes are committed through misusing of devices such as forging signatures, transferring personal data and writing letters using people’s names without their consent.

The Undersecretary stressed that experts from National Communication Authority will assist them for meantime as they are working to install an independent lab that will be used for detective purposes.

Meanwhile, chapter five of Provisional Order, 2021, talked about offences and penalties. For instances, whoever is found guilty of sending or receiving unauthorized data transmission – commits offence and upon conviction shall be sentenced to prison for 10 years or a fine or both.

It further says whoever discloses any password, access code or any means gaining access to any programme, data or computer system – has committed offence and upon verdict shall be in prison not less than 10 years or a fine or both.

The order added that any Sexual communication or publishing pornographic content – a court sentence will be not more than 10 years or a fine or both.

Circulating false information, misleading or inaccurate information with intention to defame, abuse could led to imprisonment for term not exceeding 5 years or fine or both.

Incitement through computer systems could amount to court sentence not less than 10 years or fine or both.  While cyber-terrorism – could led to not less than 25 years or fine or both.

According to DataReportal 2022, South Sudan population was 11.50 million but increased by 212 thousand (+1.9 percent) between 2021 and 2022, in which 49.9 percent are females while 50.1 percent of population are males.

At start of 2022, 20.9 percent of South Sudan’s population lived in urban centers while 79.1 percent lived in rural areas.

It said that, there were 1.25 million internet users in South Sudan in January 2022, while internet penetration rate stood at 10.9 percent of the total population at start of 2022.

Analysis indicates that internet users in South Sudan increased by 184 thousand (+17.3 percent) between 2021 and 2022.

For perspective, these user figures reveal that 10.25 million people in South Sudan did not use the internet at start of 2022, meaning 89.1 percent of the population remained offline at the beginning of the year.

Data from GSMA Intelligence shows that there were 3.27 million cellular mobile connections in South Sudan at start of 2022.

However, note that many people around the world make use of more than one mobile connection – for example the might have one connection for personal use, and another for work.

Study also indicated that Facebook had 536,700 users in the country, which counted to 3.7 percent, while Instagram got 34,301 users which is 0.2 percent of total population.

Messenger had 513,100 users across the country which amounted to 3.5 percent; meanwhile Linkedin got 48,350 users, which counted to 0.3 of the entire population.

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