Jacobs says timing of Emmanuel’s arrest can be seen as ‘interference’ | THE DAILY HERALD

Silveria Jacobs


~ He was within his rights as minister to issue long-lease land ~


PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) Leader Silveria Jacobs and the party board said on Tuesday that the timing of the arrest of NA Member of Parliament (MP) and former Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Minister Christophe Emmanuel is “very unfortunate” and “can be seen as interference, as we are in the process of forming an interim government and preparing for yet another election on January 9, 2020.”

  Jacobs and the board said in a statement last night that Emmanuel was within his rights as Minister of VROMI to issue land in long lease, had received advice from the relevant department and has therefore not handled the matter of which he is being accused, outside his purview.

  “We know that MP Emmanuel has been very critical of the functioning of the prosecution office here in St. Maarten and we hope that this is not what triggered this sudden arrest. MP Emmanuel has been representing the people with passion and dedication and has been labelled ‘the voice of the voiceless’,” Jacobs and the board said in the release.

  “Regardless of this situation, we assure the general public that we are 100 per cent in solidarity with MP Emmanuel and his former Chief of Cabinet and remind all that one is innocent until proven guilty. We also take time out to encourage MP Emmanuel, his former chief of cabinet and their families to stay strong and remain faithful. Our prayers and support are with them at this time as they endure this ordeal.”  

  Jacobs told this newspaper before the release had been issued that she was “very dismayed” at the manner in which Emmanuel, the second highest vote getter for NA at the last parliamentary elections, has been treated.

  “It has been brought to our attention that this entire investigation is ongoing based on land for the public. The giving out of land, as requested by the general public, is a responsibility that the Minister of VROMI has. He has his discretion to use. There is no policy as such. So, what could be wrong in the way land was given out would have to be something that is explained to me. I would like the general public to not rush to judgement where this is concerned as one is innocent unless proven guilty and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution,” Jacobs told this newspaper.

  She added that the minister had been in possession of advice from the Department of Domain Affairs prior to making his decision. “So, he was within his rights to take the decision to issue the land in long lease.” She clarified that the land in question had been commercial land, not residential, and as such was not for the purpose of construction of a dwelling. “We do not appreciate that melee or innuendos become an actual investigation at an opportune moment to thwart the efforts of this new coalition and this new government moving forward … As you know in St. Maarten one or two people can tell a story and it becomes an investigation and it is very fishy that at this point, this investigation has come about right while we are in the middle of forming a new government, even though it is an interim one, and as elections are upcoming. We have seen this done before with other prominent politicians and I find it very, very alarming that this continues to happen.”

  She stressed that the issuing of land in long lease is a right of a Minister of VROMI. “If that is being questioned then I still do not understand why a home search had to be conducted, because this is something then that was executed while as minister and those documents would then be available at the Ministry of VROMI. So, all of this is very alarming to me as leader of the National Alliance and of this formation process. I would really hope that there is no unnecessary interference that is looking to influence what is going to happen in the coming months here in St. Maarten and if that is the case, then we are really in a sad state of affairs here in St. Maarten,” Jacobs said.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/91890-jacobs-says-timing-of-emmanuel-s-arrest-can-be-seen-as-interference