Address by the PS on the occasion of the observance of 2024 International Customs Day

The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council wishes to extend congratulations and best wishes to all regional Customs Administrations and the wider international Customs fraternity on the occasion of International Customs Day, being celebrated on January 26, 2024. The significance of this day and date is linked to the origins of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and this year’s theme is dedicated to: “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose”.  This theme is relevant to us in the region as we transition into a treaty-based organisation, but more importantly as we embrace the significance of new trends and opportunities for improving and enhancing the role of customs administrations within the respective countries.

The work of Customs in the region remains strategically important to achieving Governments’ fiscal targets as well as other economic and social policy imperatives. The customs mandate is ever expanding beyond the traditional roles, for example, to incorporate environmental issues within the context of climate change and the thrust towards implementing sustainable development goals. There are also threats and concerns related to cyber security and the impact of technology including artificial intelligence (AI) on the operating systems and processes. There is an urgent need to reassess and improve the skills sets of customs officials, in view of placing greater emphasis on data management and analytics, to facilitate the effective use of risk management systems and intelligence led decision-making at all levels of the organisations.

Our law enforcement and revenue recovery efforts must be focused on greater collaborative approaches between Customs administrations on one hand and the wider network of law enforcement capabilities at the regional and international levels. Information and data exchange has become the lifeblood of our existence and tendencies towards insularity and a reluctance to securely share pertinent information is hindering our progress. The value of the CCLEC, CARICOM IMPACS and the WCO will never be fully realized if we continue to restrict ourselves in these ways.

Turks and Caicos Islands launches Border Force

The Ministry of Immigration and Border Services in Turks and Caicos has taken a significant step forward in enhancing border security with the launch of the first phase of Turks and Caicos Islands Border Force. Border Force will see the transformation of the legacy Customs Department, Immigration Department, and Work Permit Unit, with all areas brought together to form one dynamic, responsive and flexible approach to managing TCI’s border protection. The threats to TCI’s borders have

grown significantly in recent years and transforming the way the borders are operated will put the TCI in a better position to be able to respond to threats and challenges while facilitating legitimate trade, visitors and residents. Leading the charge is the newly appointed Director General, Emilio Seymour, who will oversee the suite of changes being made over the next six months, and beyond. An evidence-based, redesigned structure will allow better targeting and flexing of resources, alongside a clear focus on customer service delivery, with three main operational areas; inland operations, port operations and a separate ‘services’ function – all underpinned and supported by a new Intelligence Unit. In the immediate future Border Force will deliver border protection services, and enforces the laws, across four of the Islands that comprise of the TCI. The new organisation is expected to be rolled out a number of phases over the year.  

CCLEC’s Support to Regional Customs Departments Regarding the Coronavirus Threat

The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) continues to monitor regional and International Organization’s status reports, national policy statements and preparations to manage the Coronavirus outbreak already plaguing several countries worldwide.

Customs, Immigration, Health and Quarantine officers, Ports Authority workers, passengers, crew and all persons interacting at Ports have legitimate reasons to be concerned about their health and safety in view of the Coronavirus threat to the Caribbean Community.

Permanent Secretary of the CCLEC, Albert Sandy, in an advisory to Heads of Customs and Excise Departments on Monday, March 2nd expressed confidence in the ability of the SailClear/RCS2019  vessel processing System to assist Customs, Immigration and Port Health officers in managing the coronavirus threat to Caribbean states.  The SailClear/RCS 2019 System which is already in use by Caribbean Customs administrations, from Bermuda to the ABC Islands, is a live, online administrative tool that receives, prearrival notifications from pleasure yachts and other small vessels arriving from any port in the world, intending to visit any Caribbean Port(s). That information received in advance by Customs is used to assess the vessels, crew and luggage before arrival or departure, enabling Customs, immigration or other authorities (using the Customs and health declaration) to determine how to treat the vessels and their occupants.  It also serves as a facilitation tool to expedite the vessel clearance process, without the need of masters and crew presenting handwritten declarations to Customs and Immigration authorities.

CCLEC / UKBF Middle Management Training – Miami

The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) with funding from the United Kingdom Border Force (UKBF) conducted a Middle Management and Operational Leadership Course, aimed at Supervisory staff of member Customs administrations.   This course was delivered at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Miami from 12th -14th February 2019.  Eighteen middle managers from the Greater Antilles, Dutch Antilles, the OECS, Central and South America, including Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Guyana attended.

CARMS a UK based human resource development company was contracted to deliver the training course.  CARMS tutors comprised academic and ex law enforcement professionals, with many years of experience in consultancy, training delivery, mentoring, and support services.

The following topics and learning outcomes which were demonstrably achieved were based on European Union Management Competencies.

  1. Understanding the current and future issues and demands of a manager and the organisation
  2. Recognize the need for good leadership practices and the effects different leadership styles can have on individuals and teams
  3. Recognize the need for good Management practices and the effects different management approaches can have on individuals and teams
  4. Explore the roles and responsibilities of a manger in the operational setting

International Customs Day Message – 26th January 2019

The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council congratulates its member administrations and the global Customs community on its observance of International Customs Day 2019.

Customs administrations in various forms have existed from time immemorial. Governments establish Customs and Excise departments for the purposes of tax collection, trade facilitation, regulation of the importation/exportation of restricted and prohibited goods, the protection of society and in more recent times terrorism detection and interdiction.

The World Customs Organization’s slogan for International Customs Day (ICD) 2019 is “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”    CCLEC readily adopts same and challenges all its members to embrace these principles and strive to implement practices and processes that bring smart borders into realization.

The acronym SMART stands for:  Secure, Measurable, Automated, Risk Management-based and Technology-driven. It requires Customs to innovatively drive the development of frameworks, standards and practices both academically and practically, that will greatly enhance the speed of processing and facilitating the delivery of goods, passengers and conveyances, while securing same. This creates a more enabling economic environment for national development, equity in trade and societal protections can produce safe and productive societies.

WCO Conference on the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC)

The World Customs Organization (WCO) in collaboration with the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council and St Lucia Customs hosted the first WCO Conference on the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) for the Caribbean, at the Bay Gardens Resort, St. Lucia, on 26-30 November 2018. The conference brought together Customs Administrations from Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, BVI, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The objective of this Conference was to enhance the general knowledge of the RKC among Customs administrations in the Caribbean region, to identify accession and implementation gaps and challenges, as well as exploring potential solutions for accession to the RKC.

The World Customs Organization’s Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) brings together all WCO tools to bear on Customs modernization in support of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for the simplification and harmonization of Customs processes.

International Anti-Corruption Day 2018.

Corruption is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes.…

Venezuela Joins Haiti And US As Region’s Major Illegal Guns Supplier

Economic crises in Venezuela may propel that country to the position of one of the Caribbean’s largest supplier of illegal guns and ammunition, along with Haiti and the United States of America, says Anthony Clayton, professor of Caribbean sustainable development at the Univer-sity of the West Indies.

“It is not just the (illegal gun) trade with Haiti or the import of weapons from the United States. There is going to be a third major source of supply into the Caribbean region and that is Venezuela,” Clayton told The Gleaner yesterday.

Clayton said that Venezuela has more guns per person than any country in the Western Hemisphere, a deliberate move by former President Hugo Ch·vez.

Now that the economy is suffering immensely, those arms are being sold rapidly to facilitate basic survival.

“The problem we are facing is, because with Venezuela’s economic collapse, there is now evidence of weapons flooding out of Venezuela, initially into Trinidad, but which will come percolating through the Caribbean. Venezuela has got more guns per person than almost any other country in the (western) hemisphere, including the United States.”

“This is partly due to former President Ch·vez’s policy of arming the militias. Now, with the economy collapsing, a lot of them are selling their weapons and they are selling them for groceries, pharmaceuticals and basic survival items,” Clayton said.