Gendarmerie/police investigations: information exchanges facilitated between St. Martin and St Maarten

A new stage in the judicial cooperation between the authorities of Saint-Martin and Sint Maarten was reached on Friday afternoon: two prosecutors have signed a joint statement to facilitate the exchange of information.

It seems obvious to share information, but technically, it was not the case. The gendarmerie of St. Martin and the St. Maarten police were until then limited in their possibilities to share information and had to go through cumbersome administrative procedures. That's why prosecutors in Saint-Martin/Basse-Terre and Sint Maarten have decided to work together to develop a new cooperation. Consequently, they signed ‘a common statement' at the courthouse in Marigot on Friday, May 12 in the afternoon - mainly to facilitate the exchange of information.


One of the major advances is the exchange of information related to fingerprints. When an individual will be detained in St. Martin, the gendarmes or the police will systematically ask their counterparts from the Dutch side to check their fingerprints database, to determine if the individual is also sought or involved in something on their side. And vice versa. Previously, it was also possible, but much longer because a request for international judicial assistance was needed. Today, it will be immediate. The goal is to increase the rate of cases solved. However, the immediate exchange of information will not be allowed for DNA; a request for assistance is still required.


Another major step forward is the communication to the other part of the names of inmates with a 'big profile', which will be released soon. Until then, a person could get out of jail (Pointe Blanche) and remain free, even if they should also have served a sentence in Guadeloupe. The person would remain free because St. Martin authorities were not notified of their release from prison and so could not stop them. And vice versa. With the joint statement signed on May 12, in this case, the Prosecutor’s office in St. Martin will be informed of the people sentenced to heavy terms of imprisonment, and of those released from Pointe Blanche, in order to implement the administrative procedure for their arrest and their immediate detention in Guadeloupe.


The last measure facilitated by the "common statement" is the withdrawal of prisoners as part of an investigation conducted by the other side of the Island. Before, if the gendarmes needed to interview an inmate serving a long sentence at Pointe Blanche, a request for international judicial assistance had to be made, which required some time (a procedure was recently implemented, editors' note). From now on, the Prosecutor's office of Saint-Martin will only directly ask their counterparts in Sint Maarten to bring out the inmate during a few hours for their hearing. And vice versa.

All the newly implemented provisions shall enable the increase in the number of cases solved by the gendarmerie and the police and facilitate the arrest of the perpetrators on both sides of the island. "Today we are dealing with organized crime. If there is a free flow of goods and people on the island, there is also a free flow of delinquency", says Samuel Finielz, the Prosecutor in Basse-Terre. And he adds: "an offender should not consider that he can look for refuge on the other side of the island."

The common statement was signed by the Prosecutor in Basse-Terre, Samuel Finielz, for the French side, together with the two vice-prosecutors of the detached chamber of Saint-Martin, the Commander of gendarmerie, the Commander of the border police, and the head of the branch of the anti-trafficking of narcotics central office (Octris); as well as by the Prosecutor of Sint Maarten, Tone Maan and the Chief of Sint Maarten Police (KPSM).

Estelle Gasnet