The CCLEC 41st Conference was held in Havana, Cuba on May 22-24, 2019 under the theme
‘The Pathway to Success: Strength through Unity’. This event was marked by the historical signing of the treaty which will establish the Caribbean Customs Organization (CCO).
The signing ceremony was attended by high level government officials including, on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr Menno Snel, Minister for Finance of Taxation and Customs of the Netherlands, Mrs Xiomara Ruiz-Maduro, Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Culture of Aruba, Mr Kenneth Gijsbertha, Minister of Finance of Curacao, and Mr Cornelius de Weever, Minister of Justice of Sint Maarten, who all signed for their respective countries. Ambassador to Cuba, Mr Andrew Brent, signed on behalf of the Bahamas, and Mr Antony Stokes, UK’s Ambassador to Cuba, signed on behalf of Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Representatives from Customs, Mr Raju Boddu, Comptroller of Customs for Antigua, Mr Nelson E. Cordovés Reyes, Head of Customs for Cuba, Mr Cesar Zorrilla, Manager of the Technical Deliberative Department of the General Customs Directorate for the Dominican Republic, and Mr Fritz Alcindor, Deputy Director General of Haiti signed on behalf of their respective governments.
After three decades of operating under an MOU, members of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) agreed that it was of paramount importance, given the opportunities and challenges presented by technological advancements, to formalize the legal basis for sharing information. The MOU to establish the CCLEC was signed in 1989, an MOU which, although not legally binding, served the organization in meeting its objectives to improve the overall professionalism of its members through cooperation, sharing of best practices, human resource development, modernization, automation, harmonization of processes and procedures and information/intelligence sharing. However, global security challenges, the need for automatic sharing of information and the advent of several new trade arrangements means that the CCLEC’s role will become more complex. To this end, the need for a more robust legally binding mechanism to improve information and intelligence exchange was necessary.
The CCO treaty will provide the legal gateway for members to share information not only amongst themselves but with other regional and international law enforcement agencies.
Twenty-five member countries were in attendance to witness this historical event as well as several regional and international organisations.