Cyber security has become the country’s most talked about issue in recent times, especially after Bangladesh Bank lost $81 million from its reserve to international hackers last year.
Since the formation of the Cyber Tribunal (Bangladesh) in February 2013, more reports of cyber crimes have surfaced.
Out of a total of 465 cases, the tribunal received three cases in 2013, 33 in 2014, 152 in 2015 and 233 in 2016.
However, despite having sophisticated technology to trace cyber offenders and track internet frauds, a lack of clear directives from higher authorities have lawmen’s hands tied.
They are limited to carrying out surveillance, and can only take action when a case is filed.
Sources at the Cyber Tribunal said trials of 276 out of 391 cases are currently ongoing, while 41 cases have been completed, nine rejected, 50 dismissed based on the final police report and the accused of 15 other cases have been discharged between 2013 and 2016.
Md Nazrul Islam Shamim, special public prosecutor of Cyber Tribunal, said: “We are getting large numbers of cyber crimes cases and most of the cases are being filed under Section 57 of ICT Act.”
However, the Tribunal’s case clearance record is notably low, especially given the drastic increase in cyber crimes and blame oscillates among law enforcement agencies, prosecution lawyers and investigation officers.
An anonymous intelligence official claimed most law enforcement agencies have their own wings to monitor such offenses and there is no coordination or sharing of intelligence among them.
Other sources say the lack of results is due the prosecution lawyers’ failure to prove charges against cyber criminals.
A large number of criminals are also allegedly getting released because the investigation officers submit poor final reports, thereby clearing the accused in the cases.
Denying that prosecution lawyers were at fault, Shamim said: ‘‘Cyber criminals are getting acquitted because of the negligence of investigation officers. They are submitting poorly prepared probe reports for these cases.”
Tribunal lawyers and staff claim as the country’s only cyber crime tribunal, they simply do not have enough capacity to deal with the trials of the increasing amount of cyber crimes.
Regardless, IT experts demand that the issue should be addressed immediately, without hampering the growth of digital media in Bangladesh.
According to experts, many of the cyber crimes cases deal with the uploading of indecent pictures of women on Facebook and other social media sites.
Some cases are filed on charges of hurting peoples’ religious sentiment or for making indecent remarks about important persons.
There are also cases filed against journalists for publishing false or defamatory reports, cases for hacking bank accounts and for question paper leaks.