The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has warned of a rise in cyber crime and called for concerted effort by the law enforcement officers, judiciary and the public to combat the vice.
The URA commissioner for tax investigations, Patrick Mukiibi, warned that the crime thrives because it is lucrative and perpetrators use sophisticated technologies to conceal their activities. He added that such crimes are complex and difficult to prosecute. Mukiibi was delivering a paper on cyber crime during a three-day workshop for judicial officers at Nile Resort Hotel in Jinja last Friday.
The workshop that was opened by Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki was organised by URA in conjunction with the Judicial Studies Institute and attended by magistrates, court registrars and prosecutors.
Mukiibi stressed the need for the enactment of stringent cyber laws and awareness campaigns for success in the struggle against the practice. He added that emphasis should be put on capacity building to ensure forensic investigations and prosecutorial expertise, adequate knowledge for judges and magistrates on the crime, as well as creation of international cooperation and strategic partnerships.
Mukiibi, who said all computer operations are susceptible to computer crime, noted the need to lay down mechanisms for investigation and prosecution of the offences.
"Cyber crime is real. URA got hacked leading to an estimated sh2b tax loss in vehicle registrations. The Government websites have been defaced in the recent past and telecom companies and banks are grappling with the same challenge," he noted. He said financial fraud is rampant in banks but the institutions do not make it public for fear losing trust of their customers.
Mukiibi said there are efforts by the East African Community (EAC) to enact cyber laws and called for commitment from partner states in fighting the vice.
Lawrence Gidudu, the executive director of the Judicial Studies Institute, said training of magistrates and other judicial officers in cyber crime will start in March. Officiating at the closure of the symposium, Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine commended URA for the initiative, which he said will enhance revenue collection, economic stability and development as magistrates play an important role in the recovery of revenue.
URA Commissioner General Allen Kagina addressed the trainees at the opening of the workshop and urged the judiciary to expedite the disposal of cases to enhance trade and tax payment by the concerned parties.
Kagina said the tax body has sh564.9b worth of revenue tied up in cases before different courts of law. She added that the delay in disposing of the cases affects the businesses of taxpayers and consequently revenue collection.
"Whereas we are grateful for the improved services in the judiciary, I will still humbly ask for more, especially in relation to the rate of disposal of cases. As a tax collector, such figures obviously concern me," she said Kagina said the training in tax matters for the judiciary was the second one, adding that the authority had resolved to make the workshops an annual event.