Heightened security at Suriname’s borders

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Common interests compel Suriname and French Guiana to closer cooperation in the areas of security and law enforcement. Last week a start was made with heightened security in the Albina/St. Laurent area. The tight patrols are now moved southwards down the entire border.

Tighter security measures for the border with Guyana in the west are also well under way, police commissioner Hendrik Setrosentono tells de Ware Tijd. In the east, illegal Brazilian gold miners, the so-called garimpeiros, moving into the hinterlands of French Guiana and Suriname and damaging the environment, pose the biggest threat due to large-scale use of mercury as well as the smuggling of arms. Another issue is the recent string of armed robberies in the border area by Brazilian gangs.

In the west, large-scale smuggling of cocaine and gold to Suriname are also a serious security threat, while goods are smuggled on a large scale as well. “Security in Albina has improved considerably, and there have been very few serious crimes in Moengo. Traffic on the Marowijne River after 6 p.m is restricted”, Setrosentono says. Meanwhile, a police unit has been posted in the gold mining town of Benzdorp to enforce the law in the area together with a military unit.

This year, housing for policemen will be put up on Stoelmanseiland, so police presence in that area will be increased as well. Setrosentono also points out that “a lot” is happening in the hinterland, so it was decided to set up a river checkpoint on the Lawa River near Anapaike and the French gendarmerie post Twenke. He adds that Surinamese police know of illegal activities in the border area due to patrols on the border river, adding that one of the police’s priorities is restoring authority of the central government in the hinterland within five years.

For now, there are no plans for a river checkpoint on the Corantijn River in the west, but the river patrols will be continued because the situation there is different, Setrosentono says. Regular air patrols, which have proven their worth, will also be continued regularly. “Our challenge is that we should have enough manpower, but our logistics need to be good as well, and we’re working on that”, commissioner Setrosentono says.

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