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Jun 8, 2022

Supreme Court Grants Leave for Application of Judicial Review of Customs Promotions

On Tuesday, Justice Genevieve Chabot granted leave for judicial review in a claim brought on behalf of Dave Vaccaro and Rackel Waight.  They are both senior customs officials who were passed over for the post of Assistant Comptroller of Customs, despite having met the professional requirements, submitted applications and sat interviews with the Public Service Commission.  Instead, nine individuals were promoted to the posts and, in some instances, those persons were not suitably qualified. Vaccaro and Waight subsequently filed a claim in the Supreme Court asking for leave to apply for a judicial review of the process used to select those individuals. It’s an interesting matter, considering the fact that the validity of those promotions will be called into question. This morning, attorney William Lindo Jr. laid out the case and the decision that was arrived at by Justice Chabot.


William Lindo Jr

William Lindo Jr., Attorney-at-law

“Customs realized that, look, we had needed to fill the posts, three vacant posts of Assistant Comptroller of Customs.  So in January, they advertised that.  So we have three vacant posts, submit your applications if you think you meet these requirements.  Then later on, probably in February or so, they advertised it again and said, “Look, we have two posts for Assistant Comptroller of Customs.”  So at that point in time there’s no certainty whether there was three posts, whether there was two or five.  In October 2020, the Public Service Commission held an interview of fourteen applicants who were interviewed for the position of Assistant Comptroller.  We later learned during the course of the application and evidence that nine people were in fact promoted when there were five posts advertised.  An additional post became available because of the retirement of one person and then on the basis of supposed brain drain, the Customs Department saw it fit to ask the Public Service Commission to please promote these three individuals without advertising the post at all; just saying, look, we want these people.  Now my client, Mr. Vaccaro, he is a senior member in the Belize public service.  He’s been in customs for over twenty years.  He applied for the promotion in February, well within time.  He attended the interview.  Now what we learned later is that in July 2021, a decision was made to promote six individuals, and then in August, another three were promoted.  So that’s how you get the promotion of the nine individuals.  However, neither Mr. Vaccaro nor the other applicant in Claim 731, Ms. Rackel Waight, neither of them received any notification from the Public Service Commission to say, “Look, your bid for promotion was unsuccessful, we have chosen these other people.”

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