PHILIPSBURG:--- On Monday, November 26, 2018, the progress committee that is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the joint regulation on border control held its first meeting to discuss the actions that have taken place to strengthen St. Maarten’s borders. The agreement with the Netherlands was signed in December of 2017. The committee is also tasked with advising the responsible Ministers of St. Maarten and the Netherlands on the progress and implementation of the agreements made in and on the basis of the joint regulation, for which a joint plan of approach was written. This joint plan of approach outlines how the agreement will be executed and how the assistance provided by the Netherlands will be delivered. The end date of the agreement is January 1, 2020.
The progress committee consisting of representatives from St. Maarten and the Netherlands
in charge of border control in their respective countries discussed the positives steps that are being taken by Sint Maarten’s border control and law enforcement agencies (Immigration, Customs, Coastguard) with the assistance from the Royal Dutch Marechaussee and Dutch Customs to bolster the country’s borders. The results so far are promising. Through the funding that has been made available to the border control and law enforcement agencies, the necessary resources are being obtained and training and recruitment of new staff have contributed to the strengthening of these organizations in the execution of their tasks on the border. The agencies also informed the committee that increased cooperation and the sharing of information have led to more targeted actions via a multidisciplinary approach.
Commenting on the first meeting of the progress committee on border control the Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said: “There are a few progress committees monitoring the work that our departments do and I am encouraged to continue making the necessary changes and reforming the Ministry of Justice based on the positive results and recommendations. We have to hold ourselves accountable for every needed change and continue to improve life for the residents and visitors of St. Maarten”.
The meeting was concluded with working visits to the Port of St. Maarten, the Airport and the Coastguard Headquarters. During the visits, committee members witnessed firsthand, the improvements that have been made on border control and heard from the staff from different agencies about how they are experiencing the improvements. The next progress committee meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2019.