The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) has set up an anti-corruption and professional standards unit to deal with misconduct of its members of staff in the discharge of their duties.
The unit, known as the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU), is expected to fairly, impartially and thoroughly investigate alleged misconduct of the staff with the view to making CEPS accountable. It is also to contribute to the attainment of its goals and objectives.
It is being established along the US Customs model, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with all customs-wide programmes and policies relating to corruption, misconduct or mismanagement and for executing internal security, integrity and management inspection programmes.
However, the Internal Affairs Unit of CEPS has been attached to the Investigations Department of the service, unlike the US unit which is separated from the Investigations Department.
A source close to the management of CEPS told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the unit would investigate criminal and serious misconduct by CEPS employees, screen potential CEPS employees for suitability, educate employees concerning ethical standards, integrity and responsibilities, evaluate physical security threats to CEPS employees, facilities and sensitive information, as well as inspect customs operations and processes for managerial effectiveness and improvement.
“The Internal Affairs Unit will become the conscience of the service,” it noted, adding that “the unit may also be charged with a variety of secondary objectives that seek to prevent misconduct or unethical behaviour before it begins or before it becomes a serious matter of public concern”.
The source said those proactive functions tended to centre around education, openness, prevention and transformation of any existing negative culture into one of high ethical standard.
It said to ensure that the purpose for which the unit was set up was achieved, the assistant commissioner responsible for the unit would report directly to the Commissioner of CEPS.
The source explained that the head of the unit reporting to the commissioner was a better option, since reporting through other commissioners could result in the dilution of reports, filtration of reports and cutting of budgets.
It explained that the unit was a modern management tool which was used to promote good governance.
According to the source, the setting up of the unit was in line with the motto and vision of CEPS, which was “Patriotism, Honesty and Fairness” and to provide world-class customs service, respectively.
The source said the vision of the unit was to help reduce corruption and promote integrity and professional standards, with its motto as “Excellence with Integrity”.
It said the unit had clearly distinct roles, namely, anti-corruption, allegations of misconduct, breach of ethical standards and review of complaints against employees, such as abuse of office.
The source said the investigations unit would deal with matters of tax evasion, narcotics, stolen vehicles/cargo theft, falsification/forgery of customs documents, management of informants, arrest and detention of suspects and preparation of dockets for prosecution.
It explained that because the cardinal objective of the IAU was to improve standards within CEPS, it would create the platform to also receive commendations regarding officers who had exhibited high professional standards and ethics “and will recommend hardworking officers for promotion and awards”.
StoryBy Albert K. Salia