Philipsburg; Though we are in a period of crisis where swift decision-making and prompt action are often required, it is of utmost importance that the general principles of proper governance are keenly observed. Upholding general principles of proper governance (Dutch: ABBB) is vital to ensure fairness, absence of bias and proportionality are observed in the interest of the people. Keeping a checklist to ensure that sound decisions are made without adverse effects and consequences in the long term is recommended by the Ombudsman.
The Standards of Proper Conduct applied by the Ombudsman can serve as a checklist.
The four main questions to consider for sound decision making are: 1) Are the fundamental rights of the persons affected by the decision respected? 2) Are the formal procedures, including applicable laws, observed? 3) Does the decision to be taken consider the best interest of the public in general versus those involved? 4) How will the implementation, actual execution of the decision, be dealt with and monitored?
Administrative accuracy should apply at all times, even in a state of crises. ‘Sint Maarten Strong’ also means that we are capable to do things right. This is the time to promote trust and confidence in the operation of government. Observing the law and respecting the checks and balances within our democracy is an important part of the process.
The Ombudsman pledged to pay close attention to the implementation of relief, recovery and rebuilding policies, and calls upon government to at all times observe the law when confronted with queries by the Bureau of the Ombudsman. Pursuant to article 19 section 1 of the National Ordinance Ombudsman (AB2010, GT no.20) the Ombudsman is authorized to request from government bodies, civil servants, the complainant, civil servants as experts or witnesses, all information and or documents pertaining to the investigation.
The pertinent bodies and persons are obliged to respond to the requests within the time indicated by the Ombudsman, except in cases where the persons can appeal to legal grounds (“Verschoningsrecht”), applicable to the discretion of the Ombudsman.
As such not responding timely and comprehensively to the investigations by the Ombudsman is a breach of the law. All government bodies and civil servants are strongly requested to be guided by the law, as breaches of the law will be exposed publicly. The protection of the rights of the people and guarding the Constitution against violations are pivotal in the relief, recovery and rebuilding process.