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Enforcing the camouflage laws
I have researched the laws pertaining to the prohibition of camouflage clothing, with the assistance of the parliamentary library. The relevant Acts are Defence Act Ch 14:01 Section 219, and the Summary Offences Act Ch: 11.02 Section 98 (1) and (3).
Both these sections refer to a non-member of the Defence Force wearing “the uniform or any portion of the uniforms of a member of the Defence Force...or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of any such uniform.”
On my reading, the Acts do not prohibit the possession of any uniform or any part thereof and I have found no authority for the Customs’ practice of confiscating innocent pieces of clothing—a toddler’s cap or even a teddy bear, or a piece of luggage bearing camouflage markings.
A newspaper story of June 30, 2010 by Alexander Bruzual further relates that Magistrate Marcia Murray upheld the submission of Dale Marthis that his possession of camouflage pants and jacket were not contrary to the Defence Force Act. For the benefit of readers, I quote the full Section 219 to convey the true intent of the Act:
“A person, other than a member of the Defence Force, who without lawful excuse (the proof whereof shall lie on him)—(a) wears the uniform or any portion of the uniforms of a member of the Defence Force; or (b) wears any costume or any article of clothing or apparel so closely resembling the uniform or any portion thereof of a member of the Defence Force, as may cause such person to be mistaken for a member of the Defence Force, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars and to imprisonment for eighteen months.”
Unless the Comptroller of Customs could provide additional clarification, customs’ officers at Piarco should stop the futile fussing.
Michael J Williams
Maracas, St Joseph
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