SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The international, interregional and local approach to human trafficking and human smuggling requires improvement. The Law Enforcement Council (hereafter: The Council) stated this in an inspection report that was published today, Friday March 13.
The international and interregional cooperation is ‘ad hoc’ and strongly depends on individual contacts and efforts. Also, the development of a number of crucial elements for an effective, integral approach in Sint Maarten has been stagnating for years. This makes the (continuity of) the approach to human trafficking and human smuggling vulnerable.
The Council concludes that there is insufficient insight into the nature and the extent of human trafficking and human smuggling in Sint Maarten. The administrative domain (government) and the justice sector do not effectively reinforce each other. As a result, barriers that limit the opportunity for human trafficking and human smuggling are insufficiently imposed.
Sint Maarten’s approach is particularly inadequate where it pertains to prevention and protection. Awareness of the severity of the problem and, partly because of this, the necessary assistance and protection for victims is lacking. The Council is of the opinion that these crucial elements have to be implemented in order to achieve an effective approach to human trafficking and human smuggling.
The Council notes a number of positive developments with respect to criminal prosecution and partnerships that contribute to combating human trafficking and human smuggling. The new focus on strengthening border control in Sint Maarten has increased cooperation between the different organizations involved. The Council encourages organizations within and outside the justice chain to continue the (partly still fledgling) partnerships to prevent and combat human trafficking and human smuggling.
In this respect, the administrative approach cannot be left behind. Administrative measures and controls are essential to successfully impose barriers. To achieve this, the necessary legislation must be drafted and ministries will have to take joint responsibility for the policies to prevent and combat all forms of these severe crimes. The desired results cannot be achieved with an approach that only focuses on the aspect of criminal law.
The Council is furthermore of the opinion that major steps can be taken by strengthening international and interregional partnerships. Several agreements have been made within the Kingdom based on international commitments to prevent and combat these severe crimes.
The Kingdom countries agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding to intensify the cooperation and exchange of information on this subject. According to the Council, the countries can make more frequent and effective use of each other’s knowledge, experience, and of already existing plans and information materials.
To strengthen the approach the Council makes nine recommendations to the Minister of Justice of Sint Maarten. The recommendations are, among other things, focused on improving the information position and cooperation, increasing administrative involvement, and promoting uniformity and the continuity in the operational collaboration.
In 2016 the Council made six recommendations to the Minister of Justice to improve the prostitution policy in Sint Maarten. This report of 2016 is related to the present research, as the recommendations are also aimed at the prevention of human trafficking in the prostitution sector.
Therefore, the Council simultaneously conducted a review to evaluate to what extent these have been given follow-up, more than three years later. The Council observes that the six recommendations have not been followed-up. The Council is calling on the Minister of Justice to subsequently act upon the 2016 recommendations and to take the relevant findings of the present inspection with regard to human trafficking into account.
This inspection report and all other reports can be found on the Council’s website www.rechtshandhaving.com