Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams (left) in Parliament on Monday. At right is Secretary-General of Parliament Nancy Guishard-Joubert.
PHILIPSBURG–Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams called on government on Monday to investigate the issues surrounding suspended Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger’s travel document. His passport was listed as “stolen” in the International Police Organisation Interpol database.
Wescot-Williams told Prime Minister (PM) Leona Romeo-Marlin during the start of the parliamentary session on the draft 2019 budget on Monday that the PM would receive a letter from parliament on media reports regarding the issues involving Heyliger’s passport.
“I consider this matter as important, because from different reports it would seem as if the integrity of our passport system in general has been comprised. Whether these reports are true or not, it behoves the Government of St. Maarten to investigate the exact [issues – Ed.] surrounding the passport of Mr. Heyliger,” a concerned Wescot-Williams said.
“Our passport is the property of the Dutch Kingdom under the European Union. Citizens are holders of these passports. When reports such as those that have surfaced surrounding the passport of Mr. Heyliger, it behoves the government to investigate it and I would request a report to parliament on the matter be made.
“The Prime Minister will get these formal questions, because I think it touches the core of our citizenship and our identification that is used to travel to other countries, which should be respected and held in high esteem by those countries. Hence, my use of the term ‘the integrity of the passport’ system,” Wescot-Williams said, imploring the PM to respond to parliament as soon as possible on this issue.
Heyliger and his wife Grisha Heyliger-Marten flew to Curaçao last week Tuesday to attend an interview at the United States Consulate in an attempt to obtain a medical visa for Heyliger to seek medical attention in the US. Heyliger requires a visa because his Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) was cancelled after the Prosecutor’s Office confiscated his passport when he was in pre-trial detention in February.
The medical visa was granted to Heyliger by US authorities. However, to the family’s surprise, Heyliger’s passport was listed in the Interpol database as “stolen.”
The Prosecutor’s Office held Heyliger’s passport from February 19 to June 17, and his diplomatic passport was surrendered in late May when the verdict for his release was issued on the condition that he surrender his passports. His regular passport was returned to him last week Monday. He was expected to have since applied for a new passport.
The Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the issue when asked last week. In an invited comment at the time, Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO team leader Jeroen Kuipers told The Daily Herald he has no idea how Heyliger’s passport ended up being reported at Interpol as stolen.
“We had Mister Heyliger’s passport in our possession, so there was no reason for us to give a signal,” said Kuipers.
He explained that the passport had been returned to Heyliger to allow him to travel to Curaçao to arrange his visa. There were still some details to finalise with Heyliger’s lawyer regarding the actual trip to Boston, to ensure that the conditions of the trip comply with the parameters set by the judge presiding over Heyliger’s case.