Published On: Thu, Nov 16th, 2017

St. Maarten Government agrees to joint border control regulation

border controlPHILIPSBURG - Government has signed on the joint regulation on border control, one of the conditions set by the Dutch Government for doling out 550 million euros in hurricane recovery funds.

Justice Minister Rafael Boasman signed the agreement on behalf of Government before sending it on to The Hague for signatures.

The agreement will take effect after all signatures are affixed and it is published in the national gazettes of the Netherlands and St. Maarten. The end date is January 1, 2020. A joint covenant is needed for any extension.

“The document clearly states that the Minister of Justice remains responsible for the policy and execution of border control in St. Maarten. … This document that I signed has nothing to do with any kind of takeover [by the Dutch – Ed.],” said Boasman.

The joint regulation allows for “extra input” from the Royal Dutch Marechaussee and Dutch Customs Department for the control of persons and goods crossing St. Maarten borders during the country’s reconstruction.

Tasks will also include drugs and weapons control, combatting migration and illegal streams of money. This support is similar to what has been done in other post-disaster countries to keep out unwelcome persons and goods.

This additional input will be funded via the recovery funds.

The KMar has personnel assisting on the ground who were assisting the country prior to Irma based on an existing cooperation agreement. The ones who will now come in will boost the existing ranks “for a specific period geared specifically towards a set of tasks.”

The Police Force, the Immigration Department, and the local and Dutch Customs Departments will formulate a joint approach for border control. This plan of approach should be established by January 1, 2018.
The country is tied to ensuring it can take up the tasks executed by the Dutch Customs and KMar at the end of the agreement term. This stipulation was initially not clear and was a point of concern for Government, Boasman said. A stipulation is now included for the country to receive additional assistance, paid for via the recovery funds, to build up its ability to take over the task if necessary.
The agreement calls for St. Maarten to make sure the Marechaussee and Customs have the necessary authority to perform their duties; e.g., being sworn-in locally. The laws of St. Maarten will govern the agreement.

A progress committee will be established to review the execution of the agreement.
Also built into the agreement is that a meeting of the St. Maarten and Dutch Ministers under whose authorities the agreement lies will be held twice a year to discuss the progress of the agreement.
The agreement cannot be changed without the approval of authorities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The Netherlands cannot change it unilaterally, nor can St. Maarten, … so the issue of ‘they will tell us what to do’ or whatever … no, we will have to agree to make the change,” Boasman said.

The Government’s acceptance is only part of the conditions set by the Netherlands as prerequisites for aid. The other part is the adoption of the law establishing an Integrity Chamber for the country. With this agreement, the William Marlin-led Government has come a long way since early October when it had flat-out refused to bend to any conditions set out by the Dutch Government.

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