IM­MI­GRA­TION, PO­LICE AND CUS­TOMS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

LVic­tor E Gi­rard et me first com­mend for­mer Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Aus­bert Regis on his con­tri­bu­tion to to a re­cent RSL 90 Min­utes pro­gramme. He was pro­fes­sional, fo­cused and in­for­ma­tive—in other words he was not “blow­ing hot air”. Even more sig­nif­i­cant, he did not join the Blame Game which per­vades this so­ci­ety far too much. He re­ferred to the Cal­ixte Ge­orge era when re­act­ing to a com­ment on po­lice pro­mo­tions. But an at­tempt was made in the 1980s when Barnard Humphris, a U.K. po­lice ad­vi­sor aided in set­ting exam pa­pers for pro­mo­tions. But the Po­lice Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion raised ob­jec­tions to the process. I could not un­der­stand why they would ob­ject to a sys­tem which was in­tended to re­place the tra­di­tional sys­tem of pro­mo­tions through favouritism and nepo­tism. If it is in­tended to pro­mote of­fi­cers solely on the ba­sis of ex­ams, then there would be jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for their ob­jec­tion.

I am of the view that pro­mo­tion should be based on the re­sults of ex­ams, per­for­mance ap­praisals and in­ter­views. The exam would de­ter­mine the of­fi­cer’s knowl­edge of his du­ties whilst the per­for­mance ap­praisal would in­di­cate, in­ter alia, the ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of the of­fi­cer. An of­fi­cer may be very ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive but not good at ex­ams; con­versely, one may be very good at ex­ams but a very poor per­former. The in­ter­view would in­di­cate which of­fi­cers, af­ter con­sid­er­ing their per­for­mance at the ex­ams and on the job, are more suited for pro­mo­tion.

IM­MI­GRA­TION

Re­ports of ad­vi­sors and com­mis­sions into op­er­a­tions of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force have re­peat­edly ad­vised that the Force should be re­lieved of many of its agency du­ties (in­clud­ing Im­mi­gra­tion) so that it may con­cen­trate on its pri­mary func­tion of viz The De­tec­tion and Pre­ven­tion of Crime.

The Labour Ad­min­is­tra­tion of the 90s com­menced the process of set­ting up a sep­a­rate Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice but for what­ever rea­sons did not fi­nal­ize same. The Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vice is a spe­cial­ized one which ide­ally should be a stand­alone depart­ment. But due to the cur­rent poor fis­cal sit­u­a­tion it prob­a­bly could re­main as a spe­cial­ized unit of the Po­lice Force. In other words, per­sons should be re­cruited, trained and pro­moted as ca­reer im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers. They should not be in­ter­change­able with regular Po­lice per­son­nel.

The Im­mi­gra­tion Unit should have its own spe­cial­ized ranks pro­vid­ing for a ca­reer in that ser­vice. We should no longer have a se­nior Po­lice Of­fi­cer pro­moted to head that Unit. To analo­gize, the Po­lice Bands­man moves up the ranks of the Band on the ba­sis of his mu­si­cal com­pe­tence.

CUS­TOMS

Since my ar­ti­cle on Cus­toms Val­u­a­tion two im­porters have con­tacted me on that sub­ject. The ap­palling rev­e­la­tions made to me left me flab­ber­gasted. Jus­tice By­ron in his judge­ment on the mat­ter of Cus­toms Val­u­a­tion made it quite clear what author­ity the Cus­toms Act pro­vides to the Cus­toms Of­fi­cer re: The Val­u­a­tion of Goods.

The im­porter re­lated that, some­time in 2012, he im­ported some goods on which he paid over $30,000 af­ter pro­duc­ing an in­voice and other doc­u­ments (bank trans­ac­tion, etc.) to show he paid $7,000.00 per item. Four months there­after, he re­ceived a call from the Cus­toms Of­fi­cer that he (the im­porter) should re­turn to Cus­toms the goods which had been duly cleared. The rea­son for such a re­quest was that the of­fi­cer had seen on the In­ter­net sim­i­lar goods val­ued at $12,000. The im­porter in­sisted that the in­voice value of $7,000 as de­clared at im­por­ta­tion was what he paid for same. The of­fi­cer pro­ceeded to is­sue a seizure no­tice for the goods to which the im­porter ob­jected through his at­tor­ney. As a con­se­quence, Cus­toms was re­quired to in­sti­tute legal pro­ceed­ings to se­cure the for­fei­ture of the goods. To date that has not been done and the goods are still at the docks.

A tran­script of the rel­e­vant sec­tion of Jus­tice By­ron’s judge­ment (Suit No. 93 of 1989) which speaks to the ac­tion taken by the of­fi­cer is: ‘In his cross ex­am­i­na­tion Mr. Thomas said, “If two peo­ple im­port goods from the same coun­try at dif­fer­ent prices as a gen­eral rule the lower is raised to the level of the higher”.

‘With due re­spect, I do not in­ter­pret the leg­is­la­tion in this way at all. If, as the un­chal­lenged ev­i­dence in the case in­di­cates, the con­tract price of the price of tyres is the sole con­sid­er­a­tion and that price is not in­flu­enced by any com­mer­cial, fi­nan­cial or other re­la­tion­ship be­tween the seller and the buyer, and no part of the process of any sub­se­quent re­sale or other dis­posal of the tyres ac­crues to the seller, that price must be the value on which the Cus­toms duty is based.’

You may re­call that in the case un­der ref­er­ence Cus­toms ar­bi­trar­ily in­creased the price of each tyre from $3.00 to $5.00. Of course, where the in­voice is false, in that it does not re­flect the true value of the goods, then Cus­toms, af­ter es­tab­lish­ing such fal­sity, would seize the goods. If the im­porter ob­jects to the seizure, the mat­ter would be taken to court for for­fei­ture.

I think it is un­con­scionable to seize one’s goods and not in­sti­tute legal pro­ceed­ings to have the mat­ter determined af­ter three years. The im­porter said much more than I have re­vealed but this is a mat­ter for Cus­toms ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In con­clu­sion, I would like to sug­gest to the Comptroller to ex­am­ine the power con­ferred on him un­der Sec­tion 125 of the Cus­toms Act. Re­mem­ber jus­tice de­layed is jus­tice de­nied. If the Depart­ment has ev­i­dence con­trary to the im­porter’s rev­e­la­tion, the mat­ter should have been be­fore the court since 2012.

Vic­tor E Gi­rard is a For­mer

Comptroller of Cus­toms

Has the time ar­rived for the Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ments in Saint Lu­cia to un­dergo ma­jor changes?

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