Progress Committee supports formalising of function books

THE HAGUE–Members of the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM and the Pointe Blanche prison find support from the St. Maarten Progress Committee in their long-time battle to get their so-called function books formalised.

The Progress Committee in its most recent report, dating from May 2017, urged the St. Maarten Government, specifically Justice Minister Raphael Boasman, to establish the function books “in the state in which they are now.” This is not the first time the Committee has pointed out this omission to the local Government.

“The Committee reminds [the Government – Ed.] that since October 10, 2010, personnel of the Police Force and the prison have not been formally placed in their positions in the new organisation. Also, the legal position regulation of the police has not been formalised,” the Committee stated in its 26th progress report which covered the period January-April 2017.

“Not only does this constitute being a bad employer, but it is also not unthinkable that formal consequences can arise during the carrying out of the service. The Committee is therefore of the opinion that it is crucial to formalise the function books in the current state and on which an agreement was reached with the unions.”

During its visit to St. Maarten in April this year, the Committee had various talks with Government authorities during which the function books and related documents were “again discussed at length,” it was stated in the report.

The Committee was positive about approval by the St. Maarten Council of Ministers of the plan to select and recruit 20 new members for the Police Force up to the year 2020. However, it was less positive about the continued absence of the Actpol information software, a system shared by Curaçao, St. Maarten, Aruba and the Netherlands.

“There is again a reason for urgently bringing this to the attention. The Actpol system is direly missed at the St. Maarten Airport, and the police depend on it for their proper functioning.”

The Committee pointed out that subsequent Ministers of Justice either participated in the joint system or not, as a result of which St. Maarten was twice cut off from the Actpol services. “That is a problem, especially considering that after many years still no well-functioning alternative has been developed by the Ministry of Justice. Consequently, the executing services are once again left empty-handed.”

The Committee held the St. Maarten Government, in particular the Justice Minister, responsible for the absence of the Actpol. “The Committee hopes that this Minister will be successful in his endeavours to come with an adequate solution on short term.”

The Committee was content to note that the Council of Ministers had approved the action plan to carry out the Plan of Approach at the Pointe Blanche prison. The Committee again expressed its concerns about the personnel situation and its effects on the functioning of the penitentiary. The Committee emphasised the importance of appointing a “strong, experienced” prison director who can lead the team and restore authority in the facility.

St. Maarten remains the only country in the Kingdom that has a Progress Committee to oversee the execution of the Plans of Approach now that the Curaçao and Dutch Governments have agreed that the tasks of the Curaçao Progress Committee have been completed.

Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament recently that he and Curaçao Prime Minister Eugene Ruggenaath had decided, during a Ministerial Consultation on June 29, that the work of the Curaçao Progress Committee is done.

However, the General Measure of the Kingdom Government (“Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur” AMvRB) for the Plans of Approach Curaçao and St. Maarten will remain in effect, as the plans of approach for St. Maarten have not been completed as yet, Plasterk stated in his letter to Parliament.

The Minister also announced the June 30, 2017, decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers to approve a proposal of St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin to appoint, per Royal Decree, Jason Rogers as the St. Maarten member on the St. Maarten Progress Committee.

The position of the St. Maarten member on the Progress Committee had been vacant since December 2014, when then-member Richard Gibson Sr. resigned to become Minister of Finance. The Committee stated that it was “happy” to note that a formal nomination had been made.

Source: The Daily Herald