Border Protection and Mobile Unit to return to Immigration Department

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, Minister of Justice the Honorable Anna E. Richardson held a meeting with the Chief of Police Carl John to formally advise him that after  thorough review of the relevant laws and with careful consideration, the “Border Protection and Mobile Unit” will return to being under the Immigration Department.

History

Prior to becoming an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the task of executing Immigration laws in Sint Maarten fell under the authority of KPNA (Korps Politie Nederlandse Antillen). After 10-10-10, the Immigration and Naturalization Services was anchored in the National Ordinance on the structure and organization of the Government better known as the ‘LIOL’ (Landsverordening inrichting en organisatie landsoverheid) and was no longer a task to be handled by the Police. This is further evidenced by the Organizational Decree which regulates the authority and tasks, and responsibilities of each department within the Ministry of Justice. The Organizational Decree clearly states which tasks fall under the authority of the Immigration and Naturalization Services and what responsibilities the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) have. Formally, border protection does not fall under the responsibility of the police.

Department Name Change

In 2012, the Immigration and Naturalization Department (IND) underwent a name change to eliminate further confusion from occurring as a result of its name, specifically the ‘naturalization’ part of its name and the naturalization service that the Governor Drs. Eugene Holiday performs for the process of becoming a Dutch citizen.  The name change from IND to Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) was approved by the Council of Ministers on January 22, 2013 and subsequently published in the National Gazette.

In August of 2016, the decision was made by former Minister of Justice E. Kirindongo to place the Border Protection and the Mobile Unit of Immigration and Border Protection under the Police Force of Sint Maarten.

Final Decision

Upon taking office at the end of March 2020, Minister Richardson conducted a thorough review of the Ministry, its respective departments, and the legal structure.

While reviewing the legal structure of the Police Force of Sint Maarten it became apparent that having the Border Protection and Mobile Unit under the Police Force was not in accordance with the National Ordinance (LIOL). In addition, it was noted that the execution of Immigration tasks could be carried out more effectively if these tasks were placed back under the Immigration Department. An extensive study into the department found that a Landsbesluit (Lb), Landsbesluit houdende algemene maatregelen (LBham) and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that were created in 2017 are actually in conflict with the LIOL as it is written.

In her discussions with a number of IBP officers, various grievances were expressed to Minister Richardson including officers’ dissatisfaction with being overlooked for promotions, not being able to fully execute their authority as stipulated by law, not being allowed to carry their firearms, long waiting times for  new uniforms and their desire to  receive a full training curriculum.

With the previously mentioned in mind, Minister Richardson decided to place the Border Protection and Mobile Unit back under the Immigration Department. The proper legal procedures are being followed to anchor the department within the law as it should have been since 10-10-10. The legal steps being taken by the Minister will ensure that Border Protection and Mobile Unit are properly anchored within IBP.

With the Ministry of Justice in the final stage of completing its Function Book, placing Border Protection and Mobile Unit back under IBP will now also recognize it in the draft organizational formation plan.

The Ministry of Justice has also engaged SOAB to produce a process manual to be able to anchor the processes of the Immigration Department in the law which will ultimately define what each officer’s role and responsibilities are within the department. The assignment will also help to identify missing legislations and aid in strengthening the department.

Minister Richardson is of the firm opinion that every department should carry out its tasks and duties as stipulated by the Country’s laws and that departments should allow employees to reach their full potential by giving each employee a fair opportunity to do so.

In the coming days, Minister Richardson will be meeting with Immigration officers to formally inform them of the ongoing developments and discuss any concerns they may have.

Council of Advice

The second discussion between the Minister and the Chief of Police alluded to the advice presented by the Council of Advice. On December 23rd, 2013, Government submitted draft legislation retracting the National Decree on the legal position of KPNA 2000. It had become clear that both this Decree as well as the National Decree on the legal position of KPSM from 2011 were on the books. The Council of Advice agreed with Government that the 2011 version takes preference. In this context, a retraction of the KPNA 2000 Netherlands Antilles regulation is currently being prepared, to resolve any possible conflict.

On January 2nd, 2020, the Council of Advice received the draft revision of the Police Force salary scales. On July 29th, 2020 a letter was sent from the Cabinet of Minister Richardson to the Council of Advice requesting an update about the status of the advice on this draft. The advice was received on the 4th of September 2020 and it determined that the published “function book KPSM” of 2019 was unlawful and incorrect as it was done by a Ministerial decree while this should have been done by National decree egm.

The project group consisting of a steering committee and workgroup that was installed on September 4th, 2020, has taken the necessary legal steps to retract the unlawful Ministerial decree. As such, the function book of KPSM will be enacted through a National Decree egm (Lb ham) after being reviewed by the CCSU, the Council of Advice and approved by H.E. Governor Holiday.

Minister Richardson was made aware of some uncertainty regarding the function book and the inaccurate claims being made about the Minister having to restart the entire process for the Police from scratch. Minister Richardson would like to inform the general public that this is in fact not the case. The process that is currently being undertaken, is the correct and proper way in which this matter should have been handled from its inception.