OYSTER BAY–More than fifty delegates of the Ministry of Justice St. Maarten, Ministry of Justice and Security Netherlands, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Netherlands, and associated parties attended a conference organised by the local Government and the Representation of the Netherlands in St. Maarten on January 22 and 23.
“In this room are the people that are going to make a difference within the law enforcement and security of St. Maarten in the coming years,” stated Franklin Richards, who acted as moderator during the two-day conference in which participants exchanged views on the long-term vision within the entire law enforcement system and made an inventory of what needs to happen in the short term.
The bottlenecks that were discussed in particular in relation to the reconstruction of St. Maarten after Hurricanes Irma and Maria were: 1. the detention situation, 2. reinforcement of the St. Maarten Police Force and 3. strengthening of border control.
Besides providing a platform for all parties within the law enforcement system to discuss these matters, the conference also aimed to deliver three tangible results.
The first was to create a plan of approach for the mutual agreement on border control. The Netherlands has two conditions attached to the reconstruction fund, including the drafting of mutual border control regulations. An action plan for the exact interpretation of this mutual arrangement needs to be finalised by the St. Maarten Ministry of Justice and delivered to the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations by February 1.
The second and third desired results were to create plans for the detention situation and the strengthening of the local Police Force to develop the sector and reconstruct the damage created by Hurricane Irma. These plans help to explore what aspects have priority in respect to the reconstruction in the coming two years and what aspects possibly can be financed by the reconstruction fund. However, these decisions need to be taken on a political level.
Conference attendees were split into three groups. Each group was asked to come up with advice and solutions regarding the subjects. Once the groups had completed their tasks, they were called to present summarised versions of their findings.
“We cannot solve all problems within two years, so it is important that we focus on creating a base with the received reconstruction fund which also caters to the development of long-term solutions,” explained Gerard Van Voorst, Chief Inspector Law Enforcement Council, Sint Maarten, who presented findings on behalf of his assigned group.
All suggestions, notes and action-plans that resulted from the two-day conference will also be provided in full to the Ministry of Justice.
At the end of the conference Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever thanked all participants and said he was very pleased with the draft plans for the recovery and reinforcement of the local justice system as compiled during the conference. “St. Maarten is dedicated to making every possible effort to strengthening the justice system and implementing the plans of approach,” he stated.