Customs Department Relies on Partnerships to Secure the Border

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 26, 2017 (SKNIS): Collaboration has been identified as a key component that allows Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department in St. Kitts and Nevis to fulfill its mission of protecting the nation from the potential risks arising from international travel and trade, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across the border.

On Wednesday’s (January 25) edition of the radio and television programme “Working for You,” Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Kennedy De Silva, spoke about some of the partnerships that his agency has with other departments including the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Fisheries.

“Sometimes there are things that are either prohibited or restricted in the country and because we are there at the border we have to act in that capacity so we make sure that the person has the proper licensing and permissions,” he stated.

Officials also have to be mindful of the various conventions and treaties that the local government would have signed on to that allow or prohibit certain actions. The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas of 2001, which established the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), can be cited as one example. The CSME is the cornerstone of the Caribbean Community’s economic integration efforts and as such creates a single economic space for the free movement of goods, services, capital and a category of people. Customs officers at the borders must be aware of the rules and protections of the Treaty, and apply it where necessary in carrying out their duties.

Another key area of border management is security. The Customs and Excise Department’s primary partner in this role is the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF).

“Let’s say you [a person] are importing firearms. It requires an import license and stuff and we make sure it is done right and we take custody of the firearms and turn them over to the police,” Mr. De Silva said, outlining an administrative function.

There also is an enforcement role for trained officers in the appropriate division and they work alongside the police as well. “We do joint operations. Our K-9 guys [help to do] stop and search,” he added, referring to traffic checkpoints where vehicles are randomly stopped and checked by law enforcement. “We also do joint patrols with the Coast Guard. We have marine assets (boats) so sometimes we share the burden of the operational cost by deploying ourselves with the Coast Guard and sometimes we go along with the Coast Guard.”

Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department is referred to by authorities as a member of the joint security forces, which also includes the RSCNPF and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force.

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