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Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights Border Management

A sub-regional workshop on Intellectual property rights border management is taking place in Belize City. The workshop focuses on combating counterfeiting and piracy, health and safety. Capacity building in the fight against infringements of intellectual property rights appears increasingly necessary for customs administrations faced with the double burden of ensuring trade facilitation whilst simultaneously working to protect the health and safety of consumers against the trade of fake products which pose a potential threat to their health and safety. Customs Comptroller, Colin Griffith spoke to the media.

Colin Griffith – Customs Comptroller

“The importation of counterfeit goods is not a customs offence in Belize it is a situation where Belize Customs is of the opinion that if the goods are suspicious we communicate with the agents or the holders or the right holders and they would come in and determine if the goods are counterfeit or not. They would then have to indemnify the Government of Belize and Customs Department against any action because then it moves into a civil matter with them and the goods so it is not a customs offence but we recognize our responsibility and they ought to inform us to treat the goods as prohibited. What it does the counterfeit goods displaces the genuine product which in truth costs more and pays more duty and it is the responsibility of the owners of the trademark to be proactive and work with customs because as I mentioned if they don’t act then we cannot do anything apart for holding the goods for a reasonable period of time and then we have to release it is because it is not a criminal offence where customs is concerned, its a civil matter between the owners of the trademark and the importers.”

Representing importers of pharmaceuticals at the workshop is Luis Reveiz of the Pharmaceuticals Security Institute. Reveiz says that counterfeit pharmaceuticals are killing people.


Colin Griffith – Customs Comptroller

“What I expect is to develop an awareness in regards to what counterfeit pharmaceuticals are and be able to provide some training or possible awareness for customs authorities who are in the frontline inspecting shipments that are coming and hopefully identify illicit pharmaceutical products that are coming into countries that are going to be affecting the population. It is not about losing it is about the effect that it has on society, it is about the effect that it has on the general population because counterfeit pharmaceuticals indifference to counterfeit shirts or hats or watches kill people and the purpose here is to develop the awareness and to protect the general population. If we develop and awareness with people within the country and within the front lines that are monitoring things that come into the country we are able to protect the people because these counterfeits pharmaceuticals do not have the ingredients that are going to be curing the population that is needed for the medication, they don’t have any active ingredient or pharmaceutical ingredient in them most of the time they are placebos, they look like the regular medicine but they’re not and that’s killing people.”

The regional seminar is composed of two principal elements: theoretical component focuses on training Customs officers on risk analysis techniques and acquainting them with current best practices whilst the practical element of the seminar aims to engage them in practical activities that simulate their day to day working environments with a regional dimension.