24.04.2017

Cross-border pursuit and monitoring

Gendarmes and officers of the border police and Sint Maarten are authorized to cross the border. But only on certain conditions.

On March 29, officers from Sint Maarten crossed the border in French Quarter while tracking an individual who had just shot at them and committed a robbery. The individual had been arrested in French Quarter by the gendarmes before being returned to Sint Maarten several days later, following an extradition order. A first. In the past, police officers and gendarmes needed to stop at the border.

This border pursuit was made possible by the insular cooperation agreement for policing signed by France and the Netherlands in October 2010 but made applicable five years later. How does this happen on the ground? Here are a few findings.

What can be done

The insular cooperation zone includes all French and Dutch territories, including their respective territorial waters and their air spaces. The gendarmes and national police (border police) for the French side as well as the judicial police officers from Sint Maarten are authorized to intervene.

Other than providing assistance and organizing mixed patrols, they can carry out cross-border monitoring and chases.

Cross-border monitoring

During a judicial investigation, the gendarmes or border police officers on the French side who are monitoring an individual presumed to have participated in an act punishable by at least a year in prison, or who is likely to aid in identifying or locating another individual presumed to have participated in an act punishable by at least a year in prison, may also monitor them on the Dutch side in areas accessible to the public and in businesses or workplaces during their open hours.

The reverse is true for Sint Maarten officers.

But before acting, they must request judicial cooperation. In case of emergency, the request is not required, on the condition that the border crossing is communicated to the relevant authorities.

Just like in the case of a cross-border pursuit, the gendarmes and border officers are not authorized to arrest a suspect on the Dutch side, and vice-versa for the Sint Maarten police. The pursuing officers must request that their counterparts apprehend the suspect to establish their identity and/or proceed to their arrest.

The officers can bring their service weapons but may only use them in case of self-defense.

Cross-border chases

If the gendarmes are pursuing an individual who has just committed, for example, homicide, assault, and battery, or theft on the French side, and that individual crosses the border, they may also cross without requesting authorization from Sint Maarten, given the urgency of the operation.

The reverse is true for Sint Maarten officers going to the French side.

Nevertheless, officers must promptly inform their counterparts so that they can join them and provide their support. If officers request that their colleagues stop their pursuit, they must do so.

A chase may also involve an escaped individual when they are in a temporary arrest status or subject to the execution of a sentence or a detention order. It may take place with no limits as to space or time.

Just like in the case of monitoring, the gendarmes and border officers are not authorized to arrest a suspect on the Dutch side, and vice-versa for the Sint Maarten police. The pursuing officers must request that their counterparts apprehend the suspect to establish their identity and/or proceed to their arrest.

No matter their nationality, the arrested individual may be held for questioning by the authorities of the territory where they were arrested. But if they are not French, they may not be held for more than six hours by the gendarmes or the border police. Similarly, if they are not Dutch and they are arrested in Sint Maarten, the officers must return them to freedom within six hours of their arrest. Note that the hours between midnight and 9 AM do not count.

The individual may be held for longer if a request for temporary detention for the purposes of extradition is submitted.

Infractions authorizing urgent or non-urgent cross-border monitoring

Voluntary homicide, assault and battery, severe sexual infractions, voluntary arson, counterfeit and falsified means of payment, aggravated robbery, racketeering and extortion, kidnapping, illegal restraint and hostage-taking, human trafficking, illegal trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances, illegal trafficking of arms, munitions and explosives, destruction by explosives, illegal trafficking of toxic, harmful, nuclear, and radioactive materials, acts of terrorism, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, corruption, fraud, laundering of the proceeds of a crime, cyber crime, crimes against the environment, including illegal trafficking of endangered animal species and illegal trafficking of endangered plant species and essences, aiding illegal entry and residence, illegal trafficking of human organs and tissues, racism and xenophobia, illegal trafficking of cultural goods, including antiquities and artworks, fraud, counterfeiting and pirating of products, falsification and trafficking of administrative documents, illegal trafficking of hormonal substances and other growth factors, hijacking of a means of transportation, sabotage, participation in a criminal organization.

The facts refer to a completed act, a simple attempt, or criminal preparatory acts. They are still subject to the law of the requested Party.

Infractions authorizing cross-border pursuit

These include the same facts + hit-and-run following an accident causing death or severe injury.

The facts refer to a completed act, a simple attempt, or criminal preparatory acts. They are still subject to the law of the relevant Party.

Estelle Gasnet

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