APSI bill strengthens St. Kitts-Nevis’ collaboration efforts to advance national and global security

(PRESS SEC) – The passing of a bill that provides for the management of the automated electronic data interchange of Advance Passenger Information (API) and the screening of API against a Watch List has necessitated a slight amendment to the Immigration Act.

The duty to provide advance passenger information has been removed from the ambit of the Immigration Act, giving the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) its own framework to operate in, with respect to the sharing with other States of any information that can assist in identifying persons who may pose security risks. This duty is now entrenched exclusively in the bill that was passed yesterday.

Importantly, the APIS Bill strengthens St. Kitts and Nevis’ ongoing collaboration with global law enforcement and security agencies, including CARICOM’s Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and its sub-agency the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC).

Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is the Minister of National Security, explained yesterday, Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017, that, “Currently, the primary piece of information which makes the provision for the administration of the APIS legislation in St. Kitts and Nevis is the Immigration Act, and it is noteworthy, Mr. Speaker, that within the CARICOM Member States APIS is being regulated by its own independent legislation.”

Prime Minister Harris continued: “The pieces of legislation are not yet harmonized and, in that connection, it has been recommended by the CARICOM appropriate authority that we should adopt a new model Act in relation to Advance Passenger Information, which we have just done.”

Section 3 of the APIS Bill applies to an aircraft or vessel that is expected to either arrive in or leave the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Under this section, the captain or master of every aircraft or vessel “shall provide to the competent authority and IMPACS, the relevant API [advance passenger information concerning a crew member, passenger or any other person travelling on an aircraft or vessel as set out in Schedule I] and data relating to the flight or voyage as set out in Schedule I.”

“Competent authority” means “the Chief Immigration Officer or such officer or entity as the Minister may appoint.” The competent authority shall, among other things, “coordinate with IMPACS on all matters relating to the APIS…and determine, after consultation with IMPACS, the admissibility or otherwise of passengers or crew.”

As set out in the APIS Bill, IMPACS shall use the APIS to “conduct screening against Watch Lists of crew members and passengers on aircraft and vessels that enter into, depart from and travel within the regional space in order to provide information to assist Participating Countries.”

Moreover, the Bill further states that IMPACS may share the information contained within APIS with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and any other national, regional or international intelligence, law enforcement or security agencies or centres approved by CARICOM’s Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) in order to further national, regional or international security.

Schedule I of the APIS Bill deals with advance passenger information, specifically data relating to the flight or voyage; data relating to each individual on board; additional data elements such as visa number, if applicable, as well as primary residence and destination address, and data relating to the reporting party such as the reporting party’s name, email address, telephone and fax numbers.

In Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis went on to say that, “Following as a consequence, naturally, the provisions of the Immigration Act in relation to APIS are no longer necessary, and the Immigration Act would make reference to the Advance Passenger Information Act in relation to the administration of APIS in the Federation.”

The passing of the APIS Bill therefore necessitated the repeal of the Fourth Schedule, which deals with advance passenger information, specifically “data relating to the flight or voyage” and “data relating to each individual passenger,” in the Immigration Act, Cap. 6.02.

It also made a further amendment to the Immigration Act necessary. Section 13, which deals with the duty to provide passenger information, is to be replaced as follows in the Immigration Act: “13. Duty to provide passenger information: The provisions of the Advance Passenger Information Act, 2017, shall apply to the use of advance passenger information in Saint Christopher and Nevis.”

As set out in the APIS Bill, Advance Passenger Information shall only be used for the purposes of “the [APIS] Act; national security; border security; Customs control, and any other purpose deemed necessary by the Minister, by Order published in the Gazette.”

Furthermore, Advance Passenger Information collected for entry screening purposes shall be retained for a length of time “not exceeding three years from the date of travel of the crew or passenger.”

Also, if requested, the competent authority shall allow the crew or passenger from an aircraft or vessel access to his or her personal identifiable information maintained in the APIS “to ensure its correctness.”

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