This is the final draft customs proclamation. So what is new? Almost everything is new. The part dealing with offences and penalty has significantly eased the harsh punishments of customs proclamation No. 622/2009.
Article 91(1) of the customs proclamation No. 622/2009 crime of contraband i.e. importing or exporting prohibited or restricted goods was punishable with rigorous imprisonment from 7 to 15 years and fine equivalent to the amount of the customs duties and taxes payable on the goods. Additionally, the goods and equipments used in the commission of the offence and the proceeds will be confiscated.
According to the new draft, the punishment is rigorous imprisonment not less than five years and not exceeding 10 years and fine not less than Birr 50,000 and not exceeding Birr 200,000.
The conditions, under which the means of transport could be confiscated, have also been significantly changed. The draft provides that any means of transport used to carry goods liable to forfeiture shall be forfeited to the Government if:
a) the means of transport is constructed, adopted or fitted with a compartment to conceal goods;
b) the owner of the means of transport, being aware of the fact, fails to take appropriate measure to prevent or stop the commission of the act; or
c) if the owner of the means of transport fail to appear after being summoned
In the previous proclamation, punishment for obstruction of customs formalities was a fine of Birr 5,000 up to 10,000 and imprisonment from 3 to 5 years. If the crime is committed by use of force or by an organized group, the punishment extends from five to ten years rigorous imprisonment. According to the new draft, obstruction of customs control entails punishment of simple imprisonment not less than six months and not exceeding one year and fine not less than Birr 5,000 and not exceeding Birr 10,000. In case of use of force or commission of the offence by an organized group, the imprisonment shall extend from one to five years rigorous imprisonment.
The new draft also authorizes the Director General of the Authority to decide that criminal charges not to be instituted where:
1/ the alleged offender cannot follow the proceedings due to old age or chronic disease;
2/ it is believed that the proceeding of the case in court will harm national security or international relations;
3/ instituting proceedings may cause an unbalanced side effect;
4/ the charge has not been instituted in time and thus has lost its relevance;
5/ there are other similar reasons.