IND-Director Aron: “Business as usual at the airport” Controversy over border control

POSTED: 01/4/13 1:30 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Is the border management system at the airport functioning or not? That is the big question, after Udo Aron, the director of the Immigration and Naturalization service IND told this newspaper that it is “business as usual” at the airport, while other sources express concerns that the authorities have no clue who is entering or leaving the country.

With a working border control system it is relatively simple for instance for the police to check whether someone has entered or left the country. In spite of Aron’s assurances, reliable sources told this newspaper under guarantee of anonymity that the situation is “far from pretty” – an understatement to indicate that at the moment entering and leaving the country is a free for all.

IND-Director Aron said that the Justice Ministry has been busy with the Kingdom partners for a long time to come to a proper division of the management of the Border Management System. “We did not come to an agreement.”

The Kingdom partner that has been causing all the trouble is obviously Curacao, where the central BMS-server is located. Aron says that St. Maarten has in the meantime received assistance from elsewhere in the Kingdom.  “We have now received a version of BMS from the Netherlands and that has been installed at the airport. One database contains passport information and another database registers the number of times somebody passes. There is also a watch list of wanted persons. But we are able to see whether a passport is genuine.”

Today learned from at least two vacationers who arrived on the island on Tuesday that their passport was not scanned at all upon arrival at the Princess Juliana International Airport.

However maintained that the information that previously had to be sent to Curacao is now stored locally. This makes the system faster, the IND-director says. “Due to the available bandwidth it took a long time to send the information to Curacao. It is now a work of seconds to scan a passport. It is business as usual at the airport.”

The IND is also in the process of using an application called DCOS. “The Ministry of General Affairs uses it; every document is scanned into that system and that is now made accessible for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Within the next month it will also be implemented at the airport.”

In DCOS departments like IND, the police, the Ministry of Vromi, Economic Affairs and the tax inspectorate share their information and make it mutually accessible. Labor affairs will probably be added to the system as well. “The advantage is that all departments are able to use each other’s information,” Aron says.

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