Court asked for guidance on importing sex toys

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo of containers and cranes at the Port of Port of Spain. – Photo by Jeff K Mayers

A HIGH COURT judge has been asked to give guidance on the recurring issue involving the the Customs and Excise Division seizing adult sex toys by.

The call was made to Justice Westmin James by attorneys for businesswoman Ronna Zamora Rodriguez.

Rodriguez sued the division after several of her shipments of sex toys were seized between April and June this year.

In her lawsuit, Rodriguez, the owner of Intimate Affairs, which specialises in the retail sale of adult entertainment toys, asked the court to compel the division to publish a policy on the importation of sex toys. The lawsuit contended that the failure to do so was unlawful.

In August, James permitted Rodriguez to pursue her judicial review claim.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the judge was told most of the seized items had been returned to Rodriguez, and one outstanding item would also be returned once she provides the necessary documentation.

However, Rodriguez’s attorneys, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon and Naveen Maraj, urged the judge to give some guidance, since “this happens continuously.”

“Our position is that it is not something that should be happening. Adult toys are not obscene, and customs should not be interfering with them. We want to proceed to a resolution to guide on the issue,” Taklalsingh said.

He said despite the items being returned, the court can still determine the core arguments as a matter of public importance, especially since there are other cases in the system on the same issue.

Attorney Stefan Jaikaran, who appeared for the Comptroller of Customs and Excise, said there was another case before another judge in which the Ministry of Finance had retained senior counsel.

“So I believe the development of a policy will come from that matter,” he said.

However, Taklalsingh pressed for a determination of his client’s case, since it had been filed before the other.

That other matter was filed by Shenice Katteck, 26, the owner of Rogue Adult Toys and Lingerie, who said she hadbought adult toys to restock her business and tried to clear her goods in August, but 18 items were seized and deemed “obscene and indecent articles.”

Katteck wants the court to declare the decision illegal. Her lawsuit said the Customs Act did not define the term “adult toys,” nor was “indecent or obscene” qualified in the legislation.

Katteck’s case has been docketed to Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams, who, in September, granted the businesswoman leave to pursue her case against the division.

In the case before James, he gave directions for filing submissions and has adjourned the matter to January 15, 2024.