|XXXIII Annual Conference in Kingston|
The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) celebrated its XXXIII Annual Conference in Kingston, Jamaica during the period May 17-19 2016 under the theme “Leveraging Customs Information Systems to Optimize Our Role in Border Security”.
Representatives of twenty three (23) countries as well as a number of regional and international observers attended the sessions. Observers included representatives of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), World Customs Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Universal Postal Union (UPU).
The opening ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, government officials, and a host of other guests. The welcomed remarks was delivered by Major (Ret-d) Richard Reese, Commissioner of Jamaica Customs Agency, followed by addresses by Robert White, Project Manager, Cargo Targeting System, World Customs Organisation (WCO), Hon. Robert Montaque, Minister of National Security and Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Finance & the Public Service
Mr White commended the long standing relationship which exists between CCLEC and the WCO and the ongoing work with the CCLEC Joint Intelligence Office/WCO Regional Liaison Office especially in joint operations. He drew attention to the importance of information exchange and information systems and the various information systems that have been developed by WCO to assist members with information sharing.
Minister Montague acknowledged that border protection was an essential element in combating border crimes and noted that the meeting came at a critical time as the region grapples with improving security of its citizens in the face of an unacceptable level of crime.
He noted that regional Law Enforcement Agencies are stretched to the limit to cope with translational criminal organizations that exploit the region’s strategic location and pledged support for the various operations undertaken to assist with border protection.
Minister Shaw acknowledged that the balance between enforcement and enhancing economic competitiveness requires a comprehensive understanding of all border threats and potential consequences.
He underscored the need to for greater acceptance of interagency cooperation, intelligence sharing, technology and a risk based approach in securing the borders. He said “our response must be as sophisticated as those of the criminals” and emphasized the need for Governments and law enforcement agencies to use technology to better protect the citizen’s security. He encouraged advanced countries to share their technology with the less advanced.
The Conference included a number of presentations on initiatives undertaken by the CCLEC since its last annual meeting including the continued development of IT tools for the clearance of small vessels, the regional risk analysis and valuation application and updates on the CCLEC e-learning platform. Reports were also given by the working groups who will be assisting the organization with the transition from an MOU organization to a treaty.