(Philipsburg, Sint Maarten) – A review of the Law Enforcement Council has shown that four of the six recommendations to resolve a number of bottlenecks regarding admission and expulsion practices at the Immigration and Border Protection service (IBP) have not been followed up.
In 2014 the Law Enforcement Council published a report about the admission and expulsion of foreign nationals in Sint Maarten, focusing on applications related to the performance of work. In that report, the Council made six recommendations to the Minister of Justice to resolve the identified bottlenecks with regard to admission and expulsion practices at the IBP. In 2019 the Council included a review of this report in its annual plan which focused on how the recommendations were given and followed up on. The general conclusion of this review was that of the six recommendations made in 2014, the majority were not (fully) taken up.
The recommendation that was followed relates to the IBP upgrading their file registration and follow-up system so that, all files can be traced quickly and better insight is gained into the nature and quantity of the total inflow of foreign nationals into Sint Maarten, and who are the foreigners residing in Sint Maarten. The Council is satisfied with this important step towards digitization.
The recommendation that was partially followed consists of two parts: It concerns investing in the training of employees regarding recognizing falsified documents, and making use of local knowledge when investigating possibilities for a database containing the most common falsified documents from the most common countries of origin.
Training has been provided for employees in various areas and local knowledge is used, but due to the lack of finances, there has been no investment in the aforementioned database that could potentially benefit the recognition of falsifications of documents by employees.
Four of the six recommendations were not followed. The first recommendation concerns cooperation between ministries with regards to a labor market study and the formulation of a labor market policy and admission policy on the basis thereof. The second recommendation is related to the latter and concerns ensuring that the (admission) policy is effectively implemented and enforced. The main reason for a lack of follow-up with regards to these two recommendations is the fact that although they are addressed to the Ministry of Justice, they require partial cooperation and willingness of both the Ministry of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor (VSA) and the Ministry of Justice.
The Council believes that it is important that the two Ministries work together to ensure that the recommendation is followed and ensure that the necessary judicial view is not lost whilst conducting a labor market study and in the preparation of policies.
The third recommendation that was not followed concerns the formulation and publication of a policy. Among other things, the directives of the Ministry of Justice have not yet been updated and published.
Also not followed was the recommendation that concerns the harmonization of requirements in legislation, policy, and the application form used for applying for a residency permit on the one hand and the decision and removal practice of the IBP on the other. There is still a discrepancy between the requirements set on the application forms and which documents the IBP requires in practice.
The Council will continue to monitor the developments in the coming period, but is cognizant of the difficult times Sint Maarten is currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain it is causing on the various (judicial) organizations. Therefore, while the realization of the aforementioned recommendations might not be attainable in the short term, the Council hopes that the focus on improving the identified bottlenecks will not be lost in the (mid) to long term.
The Council would also like to use this opportunity to commend all our front-liners on a job well done.
The review report and all other Council reports can be found on the Council’s website: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com or http://rrh-sxm.org.