30 local Immigration and 20 Customs officers to be trained in next 2 years | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–A total of 30 local Immigration officers and 20 local Customs officers will be trained by certified instructors from the Marechaussee as part of the border control agreement between St. Maarten and the Netherlands.

Fifteen of the local Immigration officers will be trained this year and an additional 15 will be trained next year, while 10 Customs officers will be trained this year and an additional 10 will be trained next year.

This information was provided to Members of Parliament (MPs) during a meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament on Friday. Chief of Police Carl John told MPs that the original intention was for the Marechaussee to assist St. Maarten’s Immigration with the movement of people and for the Netherlands Customs to assist the Customs in St. Maarten when it comes to movement of goods.

He said this arrangement as it had been signed could not be changed without the two parties coming together again and indications were that it should end in 2020. A plan of approach was drawn up that had to do with reinforcement at the borders in St. Maarten.
According to John, the intention at the time was for 40 or more persons from the Marechaussee to come to St. Maarten and assist. However, he said that 40 persons from the Netherlands coming to St. Maarten to help reinforce the country’s borders would have been “a takeover.”

He said the focus had changed “a bit” after discussions on the matter. “It was very clear that the task given to the [Marechaussee – Ed.], that they could not have delivered the number of persons that they promised to deliver, and we changed the focus to more training of local Immigration officers at the border and training of Customs officers,” John told MPs.

“We decided that instead of 40 [Marechaussees – Ed.] coming to basically do border control in St. Maarten, that we will guide the discussions in the direction that we can take 30 extra Immigration officers in service to help strengthen the border and now we are busy with 15.

“This year there will be 15 officers locally selected and trained in St. Maarten. They will be selected and trained by certified instructors from the [Marechaussee – Ed.] and also 15 next year. The same thing will happen at Customs – 10 Customs officers will be selected and trained this year and next year also 10.”

Also part of the new plan is for the Police Force to get certain systems up and running, such as a border management system. John said the Police Force is currently “on target” with its plans.

The training of the first 15 Immigration and 10 Customs officers is expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year. The training will be extensive and will be a certified programme. Some persons are also expected to travel to the Netherlands for certification.

The entire plan is expected to be implemented during the fourth quarter of 2020 and locally trained officers are expected to then “be able to take over the activities at the local borders, which will consist of different teams being at the airport and an expansion in those at the harbour, where we can see that more controls are necessary.”

“Next to that, different activities and efforts will be done when it comes to strengthening of controls at the border in cooperation with French [St. Martin – Ed.].” French Immigration officers will be at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and, when necessary, when there is specific cargo, St. Maarten Immigration will be at Galisbay in French St. Martin.
After John’s presentation, MPs asked a number of questions related to the protocol, border control, immigration and other issues. MPs are expected to receive answers the week after next.

Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever, who was also present at the meeting, said the answers to some of the questions were confidential and requested to provide those answers in writing.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/80171-30-local-immigration-and-20-customs-officers-to-be-trained-in-next-2-years