Agreement soon on service weapons cross border (St. Maarten/St. Martin)

POSTED: 11/25/14 10:12 PM

St. Maarten —An agreement pertaining to police forces from both sides of the island carrying weapons cross border, will soon be drafted. This was among amicable solutions arrived at during a meeting between Justice Minister Dennis Richardson and Prefect Phillips Chopin held at the Prefecture in Marigot to discuss certain points relevant to cooperation between both parts of the island.

“At the end of these constructive exchanges, it has been decided to draft an agreement pertaining to police forces carrying weapons, and one concerning controls in Oyster Pond lagoon, as well as access to French territory for controls via Dutch territory and vice versa in order to clarify any ambiguity on these subjects, and continue the partnership and the excellent cooperation between both sides of the island,” a press release from the office of the Prefect states.

Prior to the meeting– which also discussed the need to increase joint controls between the gendarmerie and the police of St. Maarten and making arrangements concerning Oyster pond’s situation, pending definite agreements by the competent authorities to clarify the French and Dutch competencies in that area—the St. Maarten police and the St. Martin Gendarme had two exchanges within weeks of each other involving parties permission to carry their weapons cross border. In the first of these incidents, the Gendarme insisted on having the Dutch police remove their arms prior to participation in a march on St. Martin’s Day. The official events were held in French Quarter as it was the turn of French St. Martin to host the activities.

More recently, five Dutch St. Maarten police confronted French St. Martin law enforcers at the airport, after receiving calls that the latter were armed. The French St. Martin officers confirmed that they did not have permission to carry their weapons on the Dutch side and they were later escorted to the border by the Dutch St. Maarten police after completing their business. At the time Minister Richardson promised to address the issue in a meeting with Prefect Chopin.

There have also been a few ruffled feathers over a restaurant in the Oyster Pond lagoon area that is believed by the French authorities to be on French territory, but which is registered on Dutch St. Maarten and pays taxes there. An amicable solution for this now seems in the offing following the meeting between Minister Richardson and Prefect Chopin.

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