Sex shop owner takes Customs to court

The Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.
The Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

A SEX shop owner who says her business is being threatened because she does not know if any of her imported sex toys will be seized by the Customs and Excise Division or she will face a criminal charge, is taking the matter to court.

Ronna Zamora Rodriguez, who owns Intimate Affairs in St James, received the court’s permission to challenge the Comptroller of Customs’ failure to implement a policy on the seizure of items deemed to be indecent or obscene.

She is seeking several declarations that the decision to arbitrarily seize goods because they are indecent or obscene in the absence of a clearly stated policy, is illegal. Justice Betsy-Ann Lambert-Peterson is presiding over the claim.

In her challenge, Rodriguez said she attempted to import a shipment of adult toys in February. She received a notice of seizure in March from the comptroller, when she tried to clear the shipment. She was told the goods were prohibited and in order to receive the adult toys, she had to write to the comptroller and the President.

A second shipment in April was also seized and she was told to bring her invoices and supporting documents after which she would be advised on whether charges would be laid against her.

She was also told it was still unlawful to import items considered to be indecent or obscene. She wrote to the comptroller asking for reasons for the detention of her goods and for a policy or guideline on what adult toys were considered indecent and obscene.

Rodriguez was also told there were several similar matters involving the importation of adult toys before the court and the division did not want to hurriedly create a new policy but would guide importers on the law so they know how to import adult toys.

Rodriguez argues this is not good enough as it does not provide sufficient guidance or give a clear policy on the importation of these items which continue to be seized.

She has asked the court to hold that the division’s conduct to seize adult toys is arbitrary and leaves too broad a discretion for individual customs officers to make seizures and is unlawful and irrational.


"Sex shop owner takes Customs to court"

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