Customs and Immigration Officers are being urged not to fall prey to corruption. This call was made by Assistant Secretary General of CARICOM Secretariat Dr Douglas Slater.
Dr Slater delivered the key-note address during the opening ceremony of the sixth Joint National Border Security Training held at the Police Officer’s Training Centre, Camp Road.
The aim of the training is to enhance the capacity of border security officials in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states to prevent, detect and minimize the opportunity of illegal activities. Dr. Slater noted that due to the economic situation in the Caribbean, law enforcement agents are faced with the temptation of corruption. The Assistant Secretary General told the participants that it is important that they refrain from such inducements.
“We know that our workers including our border protection agencies, they do have temptations and the criminals are out there and will be making offers. You have a responsibility and I expect you to uphold that responsibility to desist from such temptations, because if you do not have proper discipline and professionalism chaos will result” Dr Slater explained.
The Assistant Secretary General pointed out that the illicit movement of drugs and untaxed goods puts a strain of the economy of the country. “Such activities”, Dr Slater stated, “hinder government’s social obligations to finance important programmes and policies that will develop the country.”
Dr Slated urged ranks to take advantage of the training noting that it is their responsibility to assist the government in ensuring that revenues are collected. “Be professional, be vigilant, be compassionate but most of all, be professional, do what you have to do and serve your country well” Assistant Secretary General urged.
Meanwhile, Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, in brief remarks, also called on officers and ranks, not to be victims of corruption. The Minister noted that officers must be able to transfer their knowledge from the training to the job.
“You have the training, utilise it on the job. Fight the corrupt elements, and do not let them get to you. They get to you, they destroy you and by extension they destroy the image and reputation of the government” Minister Felix pointed out.
Minister Felix said that in the world today, criminal syndicates reach across borders without regard for legal restrictions to conduct illegal activities. The Minister pointed out that Guyana is one of several Caribbean countries which serve as primary transit route used by criminal syndicates. The Minister also noted that persons are repeatedly caught with false immigration stamps in their passports.
“These issues have and are presenting major challenges to Caribbean countries, and have the capability to undermine democratic institutions and hinder economic activities that are vital to countries such as Guyana and by extension the international community” the Minister explained.
Making brief remarks also was Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud who noted that we live in a world of constant change. Some of the changes, the Police Commissioner pointed out have led to organised transnational crime and violence caused by terrorism which is heading the world security agenda today.
In addressing the issue, the Commissioner alluded to Guyana’s political will to stamp out terrorism and other forms of organised crime. “In Guyana, we are fortunate to have the political will to deal with crime and violence. That is demonstrated on several fronts and highlighted by His Excellency the President himself, chairing the National Security Committee. That is a necessity, political will is a necessity to deal with the crime and violence problems that exist today,” the Commissioner stated.
According to the Government Information News Agency (GINA), the training is organised by the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), European Union (EU) and the United States Customs and Border Protection.
Benefitting from the five day training are 15 customs, 15 immigration and three police ranks. Upon completion of the training, participants are expected to have improved interviewing techniques, better fraudulent document inspection and to conduct body language analysis and examine luggage and persons effectively.
Among those present at the opening ceremony were Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jaipaul Sharma, EU Delegation Representative Ambbasador Jernej Videtic, Assistant Director Strategic Services CARICOM IMPACS Earl Harris, Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Excise and Trade Administration Launcelot Wills and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security Daniella Mc Calmon.