Immigration data from Curacao not accessible

POSTED: 02/19/13 12:21 PM

St. Maarten – “The immigration data that was stored in Curacao was recently handed over to St. Maarten” Justice Minister Roland Duncan said on the TV-program In Depth last week. “We are however unable to retrieve this information because Curacao has an IBM system which is a dinosaur compared to what is available now. It is difficult to get the information that is on the tape.”

Duncan pointed out on the television program In Depth, that immigration is still able to scan passports. He said that scanning of passports is “not all that is done “because the back office is hooked up to another system that is able to scan a database of 4,000 different types of passports that Holland has built up. The minister said that only a few weeks ago two police officers and a member of the immigration spent a week in Lyon, France, where they were able to get hardware and software to hook up directly to Interpol.

“When this system is completed they will have a better system than the BES islands and the two other countries within the Kingdom,” said Duncan. He said there are already two quotations from companies after a public bid and noted that this new system could retrieve much more information that the old one.

“One of the systems that this new program offers is the fingerprinting which is currently being used by other countries when one arrives at an airport overseas.”

Duncan said that within two years the police will be able to use the GPS and send reports to their base using Blackberries or a hand held device.

The company that is set up in Curacao to control the old system costs 5 million guilders. One upgrade to that system would cost 2 million guilders and participating would have cost St. Maarten 500,000 guilders per year.

The Immigration has only spent 84,000 guilders so far and the Interpol- software is free. The International Migration Council has free software to track migrants. Duncan guarantees the people of St. Maarten “that at the end of the day there will be much stronger and better service without security breaches.”

The old system “never worked properly,” Duncan said, even though it was attached to the different law enforcement departments such as the Court of Guardianship and the Detective Department.

In the initial stage when St. Maarten was cut off from the system it hurt a lot, Duncan said, adding that the country was able to keep records of everyone who came into the country via passenger manifests from ships and aircraft that were checked against scanned passports. All information had to be handled manually.  “But the season went without a hitch,” Duncan said.

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