Investigation and prosecution of cyber related crimes in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

On the 9th of September 2021, in the framework of the Albanian Chairmanship, was held online the 31st SEEPAG Conference having as a topic “Investigation and prosecution of cyber related crimes in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The Conference, organized jointly with the General Prosecution Office of Albania, was attended by prosecutors from 11 countries, and several organizations, such as Eurojust, European Judicial Network (EJN), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and US Department of Justice.

The meeting was opened by H.E Mr. Olsian Cela, General Prosecutor of Albania, Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, Director General of SELEC and Mr. Arqile Koca, Prosecutor, SEEPAG Chairperson, who all mentioned that cybercrime registered the utmost boost during the COVID-19 Pandemic and that criminals make use of the latest technologies and gadgets, as well as of crypto-currencies that make the investigation more challenging, thus, more than ever it’s needed to use all available tools and enhance the law enforcement and prosecutorial cooperation at all levels, for taking concerted actions in order to tackle one of the most dynamic forms of crime, that is cybercrime.

During her intervention, Ms. Maleeva, Director General of SELEC, also informed the participants about the latest developments in SELEC, among them being the implementation of a new IT solution, named SIRAT- SELEC Intelligence Reporting Application Tool, the Virtual Reality platform for trainings and the two new Operational Partners of SELEC, namely United Kingdom and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The participants presented their national legislation related to cybercrime, the types of cybercrime that are mostly tackled in this region (i.e phishing, malware and ransomware attacks), as well as the difficulties encountered in conducting investigations during the pandemic.

It was concluded that during the COVID-19 pandemic a significant increase of cyber-related crimes was registered, that cybercriminals used a variety of vectors to detect and defraud large numbers of users in order to attack them by stealing their personal data, frauding and then blackmailing them, and that it is needed to develop a common, simplified and electronically transmittable mutual legal assistance request, to speed the process of collection of e-evidences, and make use more intensively of the 24/7 network

According to the alphabetical rotation procedure, the SEEPAG Chairmanship for 2022 was transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina.