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Justice minister wants St. Maarten to get its own border management system

THURSDAY, 10 JANUARY 2013

PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Justice Roland Duncan is working extremely hard on putting St. Maarten’s own border management system (BMS) in place, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said at the Council of Ministers press briefing Wednesday morning.

St. Maarten has been cut from accessing the BMS stationed in Curaçao since November 24, 2012. “The disconnection was not unexpected,” Wescot-Williams said. “The view of the [Justice, ed.] Minister is very clear. By St. Maarten not agreeing to be a part of a new system Curaçao wants to implement we were told we would be disconnected.”

The disagreement stems from the fact that the system, which has all information and knowledge on who passes through St. Maarten borders, is stored in Curaçao and not locally.

Although St. Maarten has been blocked, passports still can be scanned by Immigration officers at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and the information has been stored locally since the block in November 2012. “It is not a complete system,” Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said, but Duncan is working hard to put one in place as soon as possible.

“We are purchasing a new system, which is costing NAf. 84,000, but in the meantime we are doing it by hand,” Duncan told The Daily Herald. Immigration remains well informed on the comings and goings of those visiting the island. He explained, for example, that a flight plan was forwarded to Immigration officers and was double-checked once persons entered St. Maarten.

He explained that there was no chaos when it came to managing St. Maarten’s borders, “we were just slowed down.” He also explained that his ministry was looking into further developing communication between all Immigration offices located on the island.

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