Philipsburg – The focal point of the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson’s work visit to Aruba during March 28-31, was the exploration of an optimal Border Control Management System for St. Maarten. Immigration matters have long been a very important, yet delicate topic in St. Maarten. Recent developments related to this topic have emphasized the need for updating and improving our current immigration management systems. Aruba has successfully been using the Radex system for immigration management and this visit was organized to get a closer and upfront view of how the system is used by several law enforcement agencies in Aruba.
A crucial part of Minister Richardson’s visit, was to Gamma IT Solutions, the Aruba-based soft- and hardware provider for the Radex system. The system is a modular built application with an extensive array of modules, developed as a turn-key solution, to assist government agencies involved in law enforcement activities to protect their borders.
On March 28, the first day of the visit, Minister Richardson visited the airport Immigration department, where Immigration Director, Mr. Andrew Hoo was very honored to give an introduction to the Immigration Service of Aruba and their use of the Radex system. During the visit, Director Hoo also gave an explanation of the framework of the different sectors of Aruba’s Immigration Department.
On March 29, Minister Richardson visited the Aruba Border Control Department (GNC: Guarda nos Costa); a department comparable to St. Maarten’s Mobile Unit. During the visit, Department Head, Mr. Richard Kramers gave an extensive explanation of how the management of those who enter the country undocumented or overstay is handled in Aruba with the use of Radex. Minister Richardson was also given a guided tour of the GNC Housing units. The units can house up to 180 persons (male and female separately). The facility is currently being renovated to better accommodate the detainees according to international treaties and standards. All deportations go through GNC.
Minister Richardson also met with a representative from DIMAS, the department that handles residency permits in Aruba, where she was explained how Radex is incorporated in their process, especially as it relates to the sharing of information with other government agencies. Other agencies like the GNC and Immigration department can check an individual’s residency permit status via the DIMAS information sharing platform and register this information in Radex to determine (at that point or for future use) if a person is allowed entry or if a person will be denied entry or deported.
On the last day of the work visit, March 31, Minister Richardson was invited to the Immigration department unit charged with the processing of tourist stay extensions and Guarantor requests. The entire process was explained, and best practices were shared. The importance of the role of the Radex system plays was also emphasized in this department, as crucial checks are required in the system to be able to process the requests. The Radex system is also used to keep track of overstay information, address information, number of requests and other statistical information.
The culmination of the trip was a visit to the Reina Beatrix International Airport where the Minister witnessed a live/real-time demonstration of the Radex system, to see how Aruba immigration officers at the different entry and departure points of the airport use the Radex system to process the entry and departure of travelers.
“Discussions with Radex system administrators are on the way. They will be making a visit to St. Maarten within the coming weeks to further explore how the Radex system can be adapted for implementation in St. Maarten. With the adaptation of the Radex system, border management for Sint Maarten will be made easier and more efficient as the Radex system will offer the opportunity to generate monthy reports of overstayers, thereby giving the Mobile Unit an opportunity to visit them and regulate the next steps. As a result, we hope to welcome more visitors that will formally request extensions of their stay if so needed or desired, thereby preventing situations that lead to deportation,” stated Minister Richardson.