Sarah awaiting views of Court, Bar Assoc., Prosecutor on proposed changes to Codes | THE DAILY HERALD

Sarah Wescot-Williams.

 PHILIPSBURG–United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams said on Thursday that in her deliberations on the changes to the Civil Code, Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure with Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever, she repeatedly voiced concerns with the ambivalent responses by government to the Council of Advice’s report.

  Government had said that time did not permit a more profound analysis; that there had been a lack of resources and that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) timeline does not permit more in-depth scrutiny.

  “Of particularly concern was government’s reaction that time did not permit a full due process to include a constitutional vetting of some elements, or worse yet that AML/CTF (Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing Act) legislation supersedes all the above,” Wescot-Williams said in a press release.

  “In addition, the government admitted not having heard stakeholders such as the Joint Court, the Bar Association or the Prosecutor’s office. Again, due to time constraints. It is difficult in my opinion that the Parliament accepts such and proceeds with the handling, missing these important links.”

  In her capacity as Chairperson of Parliament, Wescot-Williams has formally requested these agencies to provide Parliament with their views on the matter of “Crown Witness,” a phenomenon which MPs were told is presently practiced, but not formally regulated in St. Maarten’s Code.

 “So, the question is – should we allow the practice, based on jurisprudence to continue as is or should we regulate the Crown Witness procedure as proposed by the Minister in the revised Criminal Procedures Code of St. Maarten? I am a proponent of the latter; however, I hasten to say that the “Crown Witness” is not a topic on its own, but rather part of the whole witness chapter in the Criminal Procedure Code.”

  She added: “All this put together and the other changes to especially our revised Criminal Procedure Code need a serious review by Parliament and the community at large, as these include punishments, etc.”

  She said the recent presentation by Professor Dr. Douwe J. Elzinga “hit the nail on the head” and strengthens what she has said over and over again.

  “For ease, time and due to lack of human resources on the many fronts preparing for country status, we have adapted, sometimes copy-pasted much from the Netherlands. The cultural and other differences in the application of these laws and such are becoming more evident by the day,” she said, adding that Professor Elzinga spoke about legal transplants in his presentation.

Source: The Daily Herald