THERE is a fear in the Caribbean of covid19 being spread by smugglers, said Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council permanent secretary Albert Sandy.
He was speaking Wednesday at a panel discussion on covid19 and the future of borders which was the sixth session of the Caricom Implementing Agency for Crime and Security virtual security conference 2020.
Sandy said with the covid19 pandemic Caribbean nations have implemented national curfews and lockdowns, and hotels, travel and tourism shut down for months.
"Fear of community spread by smugglers evading border controls is a very serious concern within the region, especially during the shutdown period."
Sandy said there is a need to properly resource border agencies and functions. He added, there was also a need to reconsider the future of borders and border management.
He explained, countries have to "move" borders further from home and monitor the movement of people and cargo from outside. He said, however, that the Caribbean borders are porous, and the nations being small island developing states means limited resources to police vast borders.
Sandy advised the need for customs agencies to work with: other customs agencies, regionally or internationally; other law enforcement agencies like the police, coast guard and immigration; and also with the private sector.
"We need more joint risk assessments and targeting of high risk cargo, passengers and conveyances."
He said the future of borders need to be smart, connected and equipped, with a single window environment and non-intrusive electronic equipment. He added that the Caribbean radar surveillance network system needs to be up and running.
On Saturday, during the Ministry of Health’s covid19 briefing, National Security Minister Stuart Young said local people including boatmen, vehicle drivers and landlords were part of the importation and facilitation of trafficking illegal immigrants. He stressed this was not only a matter of illegal activity, but the trafficking was putting the population at risk of the spread of covid19 and other health problems.