Dutch agree on joint drug fight in Antilles
11 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government has agreed to send extra military police officers and customs officials to the Netherlands Antilles to jointly combat the drug trade between the two nations.
Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Kingdom Relations Minister Thom de Graaf reached the agreement on Monday with Antillean Justice Minister Norberto Ribeiro.
The Dutch officers will be deployed at the Curacao and Bonaire airports from March this year and will remain in the Antilles for a maximum of two years, news service NOS reported on Tuesday.
The 13 military police officers and 12 customs officials will assist Antillean colleagues to perform extra drug inspections at both airports. It is also possible that additional personnel will be dispatched to the airport on Sint Maarten when its first inspection team is established.
De Graaf also promised last month to send in total 40 detectives and 20 other police officers to combat criminality in the Antilles, primarily on the island of Curacao. They could start work as early as February and De Graaf hopes to reach a definite agreement during the current state visit.
The Netherlands Antilles has a been a thorn in the side for Dutch justice authorities for some time due to the regular cocaine shipments smuggled from the Caribbean islands into the Netherlands via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Together with Aruba and the Netherlands, the Antilles is part of the Dutch Kingdom. It is made up of five islands, namely Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten (the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin).
But Minister Donner said the Dutch government’s crackdown on the drug trade was proving successful, asserting that the number of smugglers had been reduced. He also wants to continue with the so-called 100 percent inspections at Schiphol, in which all arriving passengers from the Antilles are searched for drugs.
The agreement to initiate joint drug inspections in the Antilles must still be presented to Defence Minister Henk Kamp, Finance State Secretary Joop Wijn and Antillean Finance Minister Ersilia de Lannooy. But Donner and
Ribeiro expect that the various ministers involved will approve of the new approach.
Donner will return home to the Netherlands on Tuesday and De Graaf will remain in the Antilles until Wednesday night.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news