SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – On Monday, June 1st, 2020, Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson hosted a meeting where staff members of the Ombudsman’s office namely Aishira Cicilia (Legal Advisor), Florence Marlin and Kelston Brooks (Investigators) were officially introduced to the Ministry of Justice’s Planning and Control Officer Mrs. Saskia Salomon-Thomas.
In her capacity as Planning & Control Officer, Mrs. Salomon-Thomas is deemed to have the ideal function within the Ministry in order to manage complaints filed with the Ombudsman as it relates to the Ministry of Justice. Effective immediately, Mrs. Salomon-Thomas will assume the responsibility as the complaint liaison that will serve as the official point of contact for the Ombudsman.
This was the second meeting held with the Ombudsman arranged by the Minister since she took office. In the first meeting, the Ombudsman expressed some serious concerns about the Ministry of Justice, including the lack of response to past requests and complaints made by the general public, the overall lack of communication between the Ombudsman and the Ministry of Justice, among other points.
As a result, Minister Richardson found it imperative to coordinate a structure conducive to the purpose and functionality of the Ombudsman’s service to the community of St. Maarten. Having open communication and a strong working relationship with the Office of the Ombudsman will further assist the Ministry in making the necessary improvements within all departments by being able to evaluate complaints and identify best practices when it comes to operations, policies and/or legislation.
Furthermore, the Minister acknowledged that Government has a responsibility to adhere to investigations of the Ombudsman, and not doing so is in violation of the National Ordinance of the Ombudsman. This is certainly not a trend that Minister Richardson wishes to maintain, and as such it is of high importance that every official complaint receives a proper response and resolution within a reasonable amount of time.
Whilst the Ministry continues to experience financial challenges, top priorities such as the new prison, finalization of the Function Books, training and advancement for staff members, improvement of Human Resource services and strengthening its service to the public, are among some main points of focus for the Minister.