On Friday, January 26, 2024, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson convened with Customs Officers at the Immigration Department in Philipsburg to once again zero in on the ongoing concerns regarding the current Head of Customs, Franklin Bernadina. In the presence of also the ABVO Union and the Secretary General, major announcements were revealed to all parties.
Commencing the meeting with warm wishes of recognition for International Customs Day, Minister Richardson officially declared, by Ministerial Decree, that Jocelyn Levenstone will assume dual responsibilities as the Head of the Immigration and Border Protection Services. and now as the Acting Director of the Customs Department.
This decision follows grievances expressed by Customs officers in a letter dated in December 2023, regarding the outgoing Director, Franklin Bernadina and previous complaints. Bernadina has since officially submitted his resignation to the Minister of Justice and those sentiments were divulged during the meeting. Franklin Bernadina served as the Director of Customs since March 1, 2022.
“As Minister of Justice, I firmly believe in the synergy between border protection agencies, harmonizing the control of both product imports and traveler movements. The pilot approach of integrating Customs and Immigration under the capable leadership of Acting Director Jocelyn Levenstone marks a pivotal step towards achieving seamless operations and positive outcomes. Together, we shall ensure the integrity of our borders while facilitating the smooth flow of goods and people, functioning by a spirit of collaboration and efficiency,” disclosed the Justice Minister Minister Anna E. Richardson
Expressing gratitude for the decision on the one year commitment of the new appointment, Acting Director Jocelyn Levenstone pledged to rebuild the morale of Customs Officers. His initial focus will be on addressing concerns outlined in the grievance letter, emphasizing clarity on the employee’s function book and comprehensive evaluations.
“I’ll work closely with the ABVO Union to prevent further issues or delays for the Customs department. We must realign to focus on the work at hand without distractions,” conveyed Acting Director Levenstone, seeking collaborative efforts.
ABVO President, Mr. Catalina, affirmed the union’s support and cooperation with the Customs Department’s management under the leadership of the temporary Acting Director. The collective commitment aims to foster a positive and efficient working environment within the Customs Department.
For additional information about the Customs Department visit the website of the Justice Ministry at www.ministryofjustice.sx