SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – A 2019 review inspection by the Law Enforcement Council of an earlier report titled ‘The selectivity of the investigation and prosecution policy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Sint Maarten? An investigation into the rendering of the prosecution monopoly and the opportunity principle’ has shown that of the ten recommendations made as part of a 2014 inspection, six recommendations have not been followed, three recommendations have been followed partially, and one recommendation has been followed entirely.
Of the six recommendations that were not followed, one concerned the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s personnel policy and another regarded the strengthening of the effectiveness of law enforcement. The remaining four recommendations concerned the National Detectives Agency.
In its report following the 2014 inspection, the Council recommended to the Minister of Justice to promote that the Sint Maarten Public Prosecutor’s Office, in cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Netherlands, develop a personnel policy that was specifically geared towards Sint Maarten. The Council concluded that in 2015 there were no fixed procedures concerning recruitment and selection on behalf of Sint Maarten. Although cooperation has been sought with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Netherlands, no personnel policy has been developed.
The Minister of Justice also did not follow the Council’s recommendation to strengthen the effectiveness of law enforcement by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the National Detectives Agency and the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM). No research was carried out into the specific possibilities within Sint Maarten and the Kingdom to bolster the law enforcement capabilities. According to the Council, the effectiveness depended on the strength of the individual organisations and of the justice chain as a whole.
The Council stated that a few of the organisations were on the right track (e.g. the KPSM), but that not all organisations (e.g. the National Detectives Agency) functioned at the desired level.
This could be achieved by following the four recommendations regarding the policy, capacity, the business process system and the improvement plan of the National Detectives Agency.
A general political-administrative policy is lacking and the National Detectives Agency does not have a business process system. Furthermore, the Council noted that the National Detectives Agency remained in a vulnerable position because the capacity of the Agency has not sufficiently grown compared to 2015. Finally, the improvement plan for the National Detectives Agency did not lead to the desired results. The follow-up of the recommendations on the National Detectives Agency should be a high priority, the Council stated.
In 2014, at the request of the then Minister of Justice, the Council carried out an inspection regarding the selectivity of the investigation and prosecution policy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Sint Maarten. The Council concluded in that report that the reasons for the selectivity were not based on the person of the accused. The cause appeared to lie in the preconditions of the investigation and being able to establish the burden of proof. This situation was of a completely different nature and related to the relatively limited effectiveness of the law enforcement apparatus on Sint Maarten.
The report was published in 2015 and contained ten recommendations addressed to the Minister of Justice regarding the Public Prosecution Service (5), the National Detectives Agency (4); and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the National Detectives Agency and the Sint Maarten Police Force jointly (1). In 2019, the Council carried out a review of this report.
Partially followed recommendations
Three recommendations were identified by the Council as having been partially followed. These concern the business process system with which the Public Prosecutor’s Office works (called Priem), the turnaround time of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the communication policy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The inspection showed that modernising of management processes system of the Public Prosecutor’s Office was initiated, but not completed. Through a so-called ‘seven weeks consultation’, the (re)introducing of the ‘Justice as Soon as Possible’ trajectory and the steering committee, decisions can be made more quickly and more visibility is created with regards to the turnaround time of cases. In order to better steer the turnaround time, the current limited registration system should be further developed. The Council also noted that the Public Prosecutor’s Office communicated more proactively and has started to develop a communication policy.
The only recommendation that was entirely followed related to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This recommendation was: ‘Promote that outgoing assistance requests within the Kingdom comply with the set requirements.’ The Public Prosecutor’s Office has drafted an assistance processes handbook that includes the requirements.
The Council is urging the Minister of Justice to give priority to the follow-up of the Council’s recommendations that have not been (entirely) executed as yet. The review report and all other Council reports can be found on the Council’s website: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com or http://rrh-sxm.org.