The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has introduced an online consumer-protection warning system in which 13 million consumers in 14 member states can themselves alert authorities to dangerous products on the market, except food.
Dubbed the CARICOM Rapid Exchange System for Dangerous Non-food Consumer Goods (CARREX), the system was created in response to calls by consumer groups for stronger region-wide market surveillance for unsafe consumer goods, CARICOM officials said.
CARREX operates its Consumer Product Incident Reporting System through carrex.caricom.org, a website on which consumers in any CARICOM country can alert their national contact point about a product which they have found to cause harm or poses a safety hazard.
On the website, consumers and consumer organisations are advised that the information they supply will be treated as confidential and used only to process their report, enforce national laws or CARICOM treaty provisions or identify areas for improving laws and regulations currently in force.
CARICOM officials said CARREX will alert on non-food consumer products, from motor vehicles and electrical items to toys and a range of others consumers use.
The CARREX system does not cover food safety, which is monitored by the Suriname-based Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA).
National contact points have been created in all CARICOM member states - except The Bahamas, which is not participating in the scheme.
The Bahamas, while a member of the 15-nation Caribbean Community since 1983, has never signed on as a member of the regional bloc's customs union and is not bound by the group's economic decisions, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.