September 22, 2018

Federal Investigation Agency struggles with the implementation of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act due to the lack of resources

Islamabad, 9 December 2017: Cybercrime wing of Federal Investigation Agency has received 12,339 complaints of cyber crimes following the enactment of Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act from across the country. As per FIA’s record, around 26% complaints have been filed by women. So far 1,626 complaints of the total 12,339 have been converted into inquiries. There are 232 cases under investigation before the cyber crime wing. It’s to note here that FIA can slap 24 punishments for 20 cognizable and 4 non-cognizable offences.

Deputy Director cybercrimes wing, Abdul Rauf, said that out of 144 present strength of the wing, 25 personnel are investigators, 33 are technical experts, 17 are forensic experts and remaining are working on the executive and administrative side.

“The cyber wing is working in five zones across the country including Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta,” he added. The official said that FIA has forwarded a proposal to establish nine more zones in different parts of the country. The proposed cities are DI Khan, Abbottabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sakhar, Hyderabad, Gilgit and Gawadar.

The official said that through advertisement fresh inductions will also be made. For this purpose, FIA also sought budget from the finance ministry. The official said that 3000 to 4000 cyber scouts are also assisting cybercrime wing of the agency.

FIA deals with cyber issues

The official at cybercrime wing said that only FIA is authorized to deal with cyber crimes and there is no other agency or institution that can intervene in this exclusive jurisdiction of the federal agency. To a question, the officials replied that in case any other department or law enforcement agencies arrest someone under a cyber offence then they will hand over to the accused.

Special courts for cyber crimes

FIA officials said that cyber courts have been established in almost all zones. “Now these courts are being established in districts and small cities,” said the official.

Capacity building of judiciary

Judges are also being trained by the cyber crime wing of the federal agency. So far, FIA has conducted two such training sessions. “This is an ongoing process and judicial academies are being used for judges training”, said Abdul Rauf.

Rules are framed under section 37

FIA officials claim that agency has framed rules under section 37 of the PECA. They also held that in the absence of the law minister is an obstacle to establishing courts in small cities. However, it is pertinent to note that the rules have neither been notified nor shared with relevant stakeholders as yet.

 

Editor’s note: It’s important to note here that the Federal Investigation Agency has been at the forefront of arrests for free political expression online and has also ‘summoned’, in multiple instances, journalists for their ‘online activities’.  While it’s important to address the lack of resources of FIA to effectively deal with crimes in cyberspace, it’s equally important to address the unlawful summoning and arrests of political workers and harassment of journalists at the hands of this federal agency.

Written by

A. Khan is a senior journalist with more than 8 years of experience covering important issues within Political and IT beat. In the past, he had also worked with renowned English Newspapers including Express Tribune.

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