Compliance and Enforcement
The Punta Cana Resolution, released in December 2015, emphasizes the key role that Customs administrations play in tackling illicit cross-border movements of goods that could ultimately support terrorism and terrorist financing.
To support WCO Members in building or enhancing their border security capacity, the WCO recently launched the Border Security Initiative (BSI). WCO Members, following a specific WCO or United Nations (UN) border security-related assessment mission, can request technical assistance from the BSI in developing tangible plans to support the implementation of relevant security measures.
Under the ‘Strategic Trade Controls Enforcement (STCE) project,’ the WCO continues to build the capacity of Customs authorities in dealing with strategic goods, which are defined as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and conventional weapons and related items involved in the development, production or use of such weapons and their delivery systems.
A STCE curriculum and modules for training purposes have been developed to assist the evaluation of standard operating procedures and work practices in this area, allowing the tailoring of capacity building and technical assistance activities to address any outlined gaps in countries’ strategic trade controls enforcement systems.
In the past months, training of frontline officers has also begun, with the aim of providing Customs officials with the required information and know-how on how to detect dual-use goods. Future trainers were also targeted in order to strengthen the training capacities of the WCO’s human resources.
Under Programme Global Shield (PGS) – an initiative to monitor the trade in 14 chemicals that could be diverted for use in the illegal manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – officers have been trained to detect and handle these chemicals, and certain countries were provided with presumptive field test kits for frontline officers, as well as electronic chemical detection devices.
Other streams of work relate to small arms and light weapons, passenger controls (the utilization of advance passenger information (API) and passenger name record (PNR) data), and the prevention of terrorist financing. Regarding passenger controls more specifically, guidelines on the use of API/PNR have been released, and workshops are planned across the globe to test these guidelines as well as collect best practices from participating countries.
In the field of operational activities, the WCO is currently coordinating a combined operation targeting small arms, light weapons and cash smuggling.
Post-Clearance Audit (PCA)
To supplement the WCO Guidelines for Post-Clearance Audit and the WCO Diagnostic Tool on PCA and Infrastructure, an additional tool – Implementation Guidance on PCA – has been developed and made available, and is expected to be updated regularly with new and additional inputs from WCO Members. Another new tool is under development: the PCA “How to Audit” Typology. It will gather technical skills currently being applied by auditors around the world, and already contains more than 20 practical cases.
Operation Gryphon II
Initiated and coordinated by the WCO, 101 Customs administrations took part in GRYPHON II, a two month operation focusing on Customs controls associated with shipments of tobacco products which began on 1 March 2016 and ended on 30 April 2016. GRYPHON II yielded impressive results with 729 million cigarettes, 287,000 cigars, and 250 tonnes of other tobacco products seized.
Drug Enforcement Programme
Launched in 2010 to build drug enforcement capacities at international airports, Project AIRCOP has been responsible for the setting up of Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) in 16 countries (Barbados, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Jamaica, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal and Togo). In addition, four other countries, two in Africa (Ethiopia and Mozambique) and two in South America (El Salvador and Peru), have recently been evaluated with a view to the setting up of JAITFs.
UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP)
The CCP is a joint initiative between the United Nations Office on Drugs and crime (UNODC) and the WCO. Port Control Units (PCUs) established under the CCP are, at present, fully operational at 55 ports in 30 countries, and funding for the integration of another 24 WCO Members into the CCP is now available.
Given the success of the CCP, a separate joint programme on air cargo control has been established, and specialized units to target suspicious shipments in this transport segment are already operational in Amman, Jordan, and in Karachi, Pakistan, with more to come.
Several operations targeting drug smuggling were organized between July 2015 and June 2016:
- Operation CATalyst, which targeted the trafficking of new psychoactive substances (NPS), gathered 94 administrations in October 2015. In preparation for the operation, a seminar on Combating NPS was organized in Seoul, Korea during May 2015;
- Operation SKY-NET II, which aimed to combat the trafficking of drugs and precursor chemicals via postal and express courier channels, gathered 108 administrations in November 2015. A workshop was organized in Shanghai, China during October 2015;
- Operation COCAIR V, which aimed, in particular, to assess and test the skills of the JAITFs put in place in the framework of Project AIRCOP, gathered 32 airport teams of 30 administrations in December 2015. Two seminars were organized in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Douala, Cameroon during November 2015;
- Operation Westerlies 4, which aimed to stop trafficking activities in methamphetamine and other drugs by air passengers at international airports worldwide, gathered 97 administrations in May 2016. Two regional training workshops were organized during April 2016 for the South American and Caribbean region, and the African region.
- Operation African Wings III was implemented in June 2016, targeting private aircraft in the West and Central African region. The WCO participated in the Operation Coordination Unit (OCU) which was set up in Dakar, Senegal.
IPR, Health and Safety Programme
Extensive capacity building activities in this area have been conducted, such as regional or national seminars and diagnostics, as well as two large-scale operations coordinated by the WCO: Operation Action IPR A/P from 23 November to 4 December 2015, gathering countries from the WCO Asia/Pacific region; and Operation Seascape, with a focus on the South and Central American region, conducted in April 2016.
Interface Public-Members (IPM)
IPM is the WCO online database that enables rights holders to provide Customs officers in the field with real-time data and information on their products. Both web and mobile applications underwent a facelift with some new data fields being added (such as authorized exporters, importers and manufacturers), as well as a “news” section which keeps users updated on the latest events in the field of anti-counterfeiting.
Launched in October 2014, the INAMA project, undertaken in conjunction with the WCO Secretariat’s Capacity Building Directorate, aims to strengthen the enforcement capacity of targeted Customs administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, while focusing on the illegal trade in wildlife, particularly endangered species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The project’s capacity building activities are organized into three components:
- Institutional assessment – this component is based on the “Institutional Assessment Tool (IAT) on Enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.” Participants assess their own capacity building needs at the national level;
- Intelligence – this component builds on common needs identified, with basic and advanced training on intelligence being designed to improve Customs’ capacities in all the relevant phases of the intelligence cycle, namely the collection, evaluation, collation, analysis, dissemination, and re-evaluation of data. Curricula on “Operations Planning” and on “Wildlife Investigations Training” have also been developed. Over the last few years, four intelligence training courses and one course on investigation techniques with a focus on the CITES have taken place;
- Enforcement – this component aims to enhance the capacity of Customs administrations in conducting enforcement operations through the use of a wide range of techniques, such as the conducting of controlled deliveries. To do so, practical training courses will be delivered, and field manuals supporting the daily work of frontline officers will be developed.
During its last meeting, the WCO Electronic Crime Expert Group (ECEG) examined the DarkNet (an overlay network that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations or authorization, often using non-standard communications protocols and ports), virtual currencies/bitcoins, network monitoring tools to identify streaming servers, trade-based money laundering, and the United States’ Data Analysis and Research for Trade Transparency System (DARTTS) – a computer forensics system. Meeting reports and presentations on the activities of ECEG may be perused by WCO Members on the WCO website.
The CEN suite
The CEN suite includes three standalone applications, namely the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN), the National CEN (nCEN) and the CEN communication platform (CENcomm), which are compatible and complimentary in nature – each supporting Customs with the digitalization of operational processes in the enforcement field.
The legacy CEN application allows WCO Members to consult a central global depository of enforcement-related information in order to produce valuable analysis and intelligence. Recently, the WCO introduced improvements to the features of the application, including updates to the underlying technology for improved performance and ease of maintenance, the reclassification of commodities for more accurate data reporting, enhancement of the detection method and risk indicator sections in accordance with the WCO Risk Management Compendium, and changes to the data download feature for more efficient data management by users.
In parallel to ensure the improvements of the CEN, the WCO launched a new version of the nCEN application in 2015, which was developed in close cooperation with the 20 Customs administrations where the nCEN has already been deployed. The new version integrates all improvements introduced in the CEN, as well as important upgrades of the electronic data input component and of the in-built information communication interface (see the article published in the June edition of the magazine).
The use of CENcomm continues to expand rapidly, making it the most desired and widely used application within the CEN suite. In 2015, the platform hosted 87 operations and projects, continuing the upward trend in activity seen in recent years (an average of 20% per year). Following the release of a new version of the CEN and the nCEN, the WCO began a modernization project for the CENcomm application which is intended to improve the overall functionality and user experience, interconnectivity, as well as protection against the latest data security threats.
WCO Cargo Targeting System (CTS)
The CTS enables user countries to capture advance electronic cargo manifest information, and to perform risk assessment, profiling and targeting. To date, the WCO CTS has been deployed in six countries, namely the Bahamas, Georgia, Jamaica, the Maldives, Panama and Sri Lanka. Further deployments are planned in the coming months in Chile, Kenya, the Philippines and Ukraine. In addition, development of the WCO CTS’ air cargo capability is nearing completion, and pilots are planned for later in the year.
Compendium of Customs Operational Practices for Enforcement and Seizures (COPES)
Not all Customs administrations have investigative powers, but all of them should implement best practices and procedures when dealing with a seizure, in order to facilitate the work of those in charge of the investigation, including the judge who will hear the case.
To provide guidance in this area, back in 2012 the WCO produced COPES, and later secured funding for training with respect to the compendium’s critical content. A Project Manager was subsequently recruited in March 2015 to implement the training activities.
Training modules were developed around the following topics: risk; storage and disposal of seized goods; sourcing of information and sharing of intelligence; coordinated activities with other agencies; recording and documentation of information; definitions and types of evidence; integrity and traceability of evidence; forensics; practical interrogation techniques; the role of the prosecutor; and management of cases.
Seminars have already been held for Customs officials in almost all of the WCO’s six regions. They consisted of a general presentation on the COPES project, the relevance of the topics covered given the challenges faced by administrations in regard to cross-border criminality, and the delivery of the training itself. National workshops have also been held in Peru, Senegal and Uganda for field officers working as part of multidisciplinary teams.
COPES training activities are set to intensify in the months ahead, as the WCO Secretariat has difficulty in keeping up with training requests. Enforcement teams taking part in the UNODC-WCO CCP and Project AIRCOP are likely to benefit as a result. The COPES Compendium itself will be updated, and the educational support material used during training sessions will be expanded and improved (see the article published in the June edition of the magazine).
Cultural goods are the subject of a specific resolution endorsed by the WCO Council. This initiative came about as a result of a series of high-level meetings with the Heads of other international organizations having a role in the protection of cultural heritage, as well as expert level activities and coordination efforts.
The resolution calls upon countries to conduct an analysis aimed at identifying and closing the gaps in current legislation and techniques as a means of addressing this scourge. It also encourages Customs authorities to introduce new “export certificates,” or to revise existing certificates, in line with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-WCO Model Export Certificate.
Moreover, the resolution also calls for more cooperation with relevant stakeholders, such as experts in the field and cultural institutions. In this domain, Customs authorities and their national counterparts are requested to use the ARCHEO platform to link up with experts, in order to facilitate, among other things, the determination of the nature of the artefacts when confronted with a suspicious transaction. The tool will also enable authorities to exchange best practices and information on seizures.