CUSTOMS OFFICERS HAVE THE POWER OF ARREST UNDER THE CUSTOMS ACT, NO. 19 OF 2014

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 31, 2020 (SKNIS): According to the Customs Act, No. 19 of 2014, customs officers have the power to arrest individuals found in breach of the law, says Elmar Martines, Assistant Comptroller of Customs for Investigations while appearing on the radio-television show “Working for You” on January 29.

The Act reads:145. Power of arrest. (1) Subject to subsection (2) a customs officer or a police officer may arrest a person who has committed, or who that officer has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or is about to commit, an offence under any customs enactment. (2) A customs officer or a police officer shall not arrest another person for an offence by virtue of subsection (1) more than seven years after the commission of the offence. (3) Where a customs officer arrests a person under subsection (1) the customs officer shall, as soon as practicable, deliver the arrested person into the custody of a police officer.

“When we come into contact with any perpetrator, we have to carry out those same procedures in terms of making arrests, charging the offenders based on Customs offences, and we hand them over to the Police where they will be taken into custody,” he said.

Mr. Martines noted that customs officers charge based on customs offences and police officers charge on police offences.

“If you smuggle let’s say guns and ammunition into the country, the police will have an interest in that as a matter of investigation as well because they are the relevant authorities in regards to the fire and gun ammunition. Customs would prefer our customs charges. So, in a situation like that, the Police will prosecute the matter on behalf of Customs and of course the Police.”

The customs official stated that based on the Customs Act, the Comptroller of Customs has the authority to ask the Commissioner of Police to prosecute on his behalf.

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