Boasman: Border control non-issue

PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman said on Wednesday that while the Dutch government, as part of its conditions to release aid, wants to establish a binding agreement that border control in St. Maarten will be executed by the Marechaussee and the Dutch Customs, the agreement document only made its way to Philipsburg on October 30.
While not going into what the agreement entails, Boasman said there were already binding agreements covering this matter with not only the Dutch Government, but also the governments of Curaçao and Aruba.

“The difference here [in the conditions – Ed.) is that it is stated that the border control will be executed by the Royal Marechaussee – meaning that they would have the lead and they would do that independently of any other agencies, which is not the case at present,” he added.
Boasman said also that no mention is made of local law enforcement agencies, just the Dutch Customs and the Marechaussee. He said St. Maarten currently enjoys “a very good” working relationship with the Royal Marechaussee, which he said is welcomed to the country and whose support to local law enforcement is “appreciated.”
Some changes were made by the Minister and police and forwarded to the Netherlands for ratification, but Parliament, when accepting a motion accepting all conditions as is, hampered the deal. The Dutch now can state that approval was already given by Parliament and therefore would not need the Minister’s okay.
The cooperation with the Marechaussee dates back to the former Netherlands Antilles. The first protocol was entered into in 2004 and 43 Marechaussees were made available to the former Netherlands Antilles as full-time employees (FTEs) since 2008. They are referred to as the “flex pool.”
The cooperation continued after St. Maarten obtained its new constitutional status on October 10, 2010, and a protocol was signed with the Dutch and Curaçao Governments in January 2010 after one of the bi-annual meetings of the four Justice Ministers in the Kingdom. That protocol ran from January 2011 to June 2015 and covered areas such as border control, immigration and control of drugs at borders, combating migration, drugs and violent crimes – the same issues covered in the conditions set by the Dutch Government for aid.
The protocol was evaluated by a Dutch group contracted by now-caretaker Minister of Kingdom Relations and the Interior Ronald Plasterk and an evaluation report dated March 8, 2013, was compiled.
An agreement to extend the “flex pool” of Marechaussees from July 1, 2015, to December 31, 2019, was signed in 2014 and the support was expanded to include Aruba.
“At present, we have a valid protocol – a valid agreement – among all four countries in the Kingdom on the participation of the Royal Marechaussees as far as border control is concerned,” Boasman said, “and it is still valid for at least two more years.” He noted that the condition set by the Dutch government is “directly contrary to that valid protocol.”
Boasman also highlighted several instances where Plasterk himself made reference to the binding agreements involving the Marechaussee and even referred to the benefits of their work in border control in St. Maarten and in the combating of violent crimes, immigration control, combating of human-smuggling and -trafficking, and combating of drug-trafficking at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM.
The existing protocol on border control stipulates that additions or amendments by the signatory countries will take place at the JVO meeting, the next of which will be held in Curaçao in mid-January, 2018, and not “via giving recovery aid to St. Maarten.”
According to Boasman, proposals were made at a JVO conference held at The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa just before Hurricane Irma that the functioning of the Royal Marechaussee flex pool should be reprioritised to focus more on border control, and this will be done.

Source: The Daily Herald


  1. P.S.: Hi. It’s me again. Mr Minister, can you please ask GEBE when they are going to get the lights turned on at my house Colebay? It’s been over two months now. And if GEBE doesn’t know who Colebay Pete is, don’t worry. There are about half a dozen Petes in my neighbourhoud (we have a popular name). And none of them have power.

  2. After reading this argument I am more confused than ever about the so-called hardships that would be imposed by working together with the Dutch to ensure that Sint Maarten’s borders are properly protected.

    For starters, I would quibble with Minister’s Boasman’s assertion that having a “protocol” is the same thing has having a “valid agreement.” An agreement is all about where you want to go. Protocol is how to get there. It’s perfectly feasible to have an invalid protocol and a valid agreement, and vice-versa. So my question is, what, specifically, is the agreement, and what, specifically, is the protocol. And what, specifically, have the Dutch requested? To sum: protocol is protocol and an agreement is an agreement, but protocol is not an agreement (maybe he means that they have made an agreement to respect a certain protocol, but either way, you get my drift: clarity is needed).

    Also, I take issue with the implied assertion that “executing” border control is the same thing as “having the lead” and “doing that independently.” This isn’t actually true. In my field, for example, executing something is NOT the same thing as being the responsible leader. Executing is just executing. Leading is leading. Manager vs labourer. Apples vs oranges. It would be helpful if we could understand exactly what everybody is talking about, because I’m confused.

    Also, if the minister already replied to the Dutch and proposed some changes, why the hell didn’t he tell parliament that he’s working on it? And why did Marlin categorically reject all of the Dutch conditions if we were already prepared to negotiate on them? Please help me understand the timeline of communications within our dysfunctional government, because sometimes I have the impression that the only people who we ARE communicating with are the Dutch.

    And another comment: the minister uses terms like “a very good” relationship and that the Marechaussee are “appreciated.” So why are these two terms in quotations? Normally when you put quotes around a word, it is either because you are quoting somebody else, or you are being sarcastic. Either way, it doesn’t sound that genuine, does it?

    But if we give the minister the benefit of the doubt and assume that he truly is grateful for the dutch help and the existing flex pool of Marechaussee, then the only viable conclusions that the Minister, the Dutch, and the people all want the same thing here: a secure and efficient border. It begs the question:

    Why exactly, Mr Minister, are you still bickering about the details?