Dutch and French Officials Meet about Crime Prevention and Illegal Firearms Cooperation

A delegation from Paris, France on Tuesday visited Philipsburg and had discussions with the Governor, His Excellency Eugene Holiday, and with the Minister of Justice, Hon. Dennis Richardson, about crime prevention and the fight against illegal firearms.


The French officials came from the Inspectorates of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Gendarmerie Nationale and the Police Nationale and were led by senior former Sous Préfet, Dominique Lacroix.


The French authorities are auditing the performance of the different entities on the French side and hope to come up with recommendations to improve the cooperation between the different law enforcement organizations on both sides of the island.


Sous Prefet Lacroix and his delegation will also visit Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana, but he explained Saint-Martin is unique since it is the only French overseas island that has an international border. Effective law enforcement has to take that border and its open character into account.


Minister Richardson met the French experts together with senior officials from the Public Prosecutors Office, the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM), the Customs Service, the Coastguard, and the Immigration and Border Protection Service. They informed the French Sous Préfet and his delegation about the actual cooperation that is taken place in the field.


Minister Richardson and Sous Préfet Lacroix agreed that the present cooperation is working well on an ad hoc level, but there is still room for improvement on a strategic level. First of all by organising structured and frequent information exchange between authorities in Marigot and Philipsburg.


It seems logical to also involve neighbouring islands such as Anguilla, Saba, Statia and St Kitts, but also the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Crime does not stop at borders so we must make sure law enforcement can function across borders as well was the general observation.


Minister Richardson mentioned that he hopes the Police Cooperation Treaty with France will be ratified this year by Parliament in The Hague. This will facilitate cooperation tremendously.


The Minister of Justice also hopes that the same type of cooperation agreement can be reached for maritime law enforcement by the two coastguard organizations.


Finally Minister Richardson responded positively to the French suggestion to station a French liaison officer inside the Sint Maarten Police Force and to appoint a KPSM liaison officer for the Gendarmerie and Police Nationale.