PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Justice Edson Kirindongo was on the island of Barbados from Sunday, May 15, through Tuesday, May 17, for a working visit.
During his visit, the Minister met with representatives of Home Land Security. Minister Kirindongo acquired in depth information surrounding the Joint Regional Communication Center (JRCC), and in particular the availability and usage of the Advance Passenger Information System. The JRCC falls directly under CARICOM.
The Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) is an automated system, which compiles and provides data of suspected and criminal elements prior to the arrival and departure of an aircraft or vessel at each port of entry in participating Member States. It contains a complete list of persons (crew and passengers) on board including their biographic data and carrier information, which allows for better monitoring of the movement of criminal elements within the region.
(Bearing in mind that) combating of “across border crime” such as the trafficking in illegal drugs, fire-arms, human trafficking and with the threat of terrorism, (which) is on the increase worldwide (and are ranked very high on the list of priorities in the fight against crime in general). The Minister is of the opinion that St. Maarten should join these actions and become a participating Member State of the JCCR.
There are 15 Caribbean countries that are listed as participating Members States in CARICOM. St. Maarten is not a member, but merely an observer. Should St. Maarten become a full-fledged member of CARICOM, it would have APIS at its disposal, and in doing so enhance the safety and security of the country.
Minister Kirindongo will organize a meeting with the Minister of General Affairs and the Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs to discuss this issue. The benefit that St. Maarten will gain far outweighs the costs that are involved in becoming an active member state of CARICOM.