Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus stated this week that a coastal radar system for St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba will only be installed in 2021, and not sooner as the Law Enforcement Council would have liked to see.
The Law Enforcement Council (“Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving”) of Curacao, St. Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands, in its June 2018 inspection report about the execution of the investigative tasks of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, had suggested looking at the possibilities of so-called real-time gathering of information in and around the Windward Islands, ideally with a permanent radar installation. Grapperhaus stated in a reaction to the report, which he sent to the Dutch Parliament earlier this week, that the long-term plan 20192028 for the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard included the purchase of a coastal radar system for the Windward Islands in 2021.
He said he was satisfied with the cooperation within the Kingdom where it concerned the Coast Guard, a collaboration that involves no less than 17 departments of the four countries. In the Netherlands alone, six ministries are represented in the Coast Guard Presidium: Justice and Security, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Infrastructure and Water Management, and Economic Affairs.
“The Coast Guard is a cooperation organisation between countries and departments with different interests and responsibilities. The inspection report of the Law Enforcement Council clearly illustrates this. Parties strive for consensus and this is mostly successful,” stated Grapperhaus.
According to him, the Council concluded that the
issues it found within the Coast Guard organisation were not the result of the legal set-up or the organisational structure. “This confirms the usefulness, necessity and the basis of the Coast Guard.”
The Law Enforcement Council in its report expressed concerns about budgetary issues at the Coast Guard. Grapperhaus noted that this issue has been solved in the meantime by adding a structural annual contribution of 10 million euros, paid for by the Netherlands, starting this year. “Therefore, cost-cutting measures are no longer an issue.”
He said that as far as he was concerned there was constructive cooperation between the countries. “Naturally, a good cooperation is of eminent importance for the Coast Guard’s success. The input of all stakeholders is focused on this; also, for example, during the Judicial Four Party Consultation and the Kingdom Attorneys General Consultation.”
The Law Enforcement Council had recommended promoting a constructive cooperation between the participants in the Coast Guard Presidium.
Grapperhaus did address the financial component. “Maritime law enforcement in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom benefits from a well-functioning and adequately-equipped Coast Guard. That is why it is of essential importance in the cooperation structure that all countries deliver their fair share to the joint financing of this important security partner in the Caribbean.”
The Law Enforcement Council further recommended organising detective capacity for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard gathered information for investigations on which the detective departments of the countries sometimes could not follow up due to prioritising and limited rapacity. The Coast Guard is striving for better cooperation with the law enforcement entities, coordinated by the Prosecutors’ Offices.
As stated in the Coast Guard’s 2018-2021 Judicial Policy Plan, the Prosecutors’ Offices want to invest in a combined team of the involved departments to enable a quicker input by detectives based on information gathered by the Coast Guard. Grapperhaus stated that he wholeheartedly supported this.
The Daily Herald.