PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Bar Association said Friday that, taking note of a press release and various opinions expressed on social media by Bar Association Dean Geert Hatzmann in which he expressed his personal opinions about St. Maarten’s prison system and provided other political commentary on various matters, the Bar Association and its members were distancing themselves from these statements.
In the statements, which were also printed in the Friday, July 3, edition of The Daily Herald under the headline “Bar Association Dean ‘pleased’ with Dutch prison intervention”, Hatzmann said he was pleased with the motion adopted in the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber to take prison management out of St. Maarten’s hands, with the Netherlands creating a modern prison that meets safety and human-rights requirements.
He also took aim against local politicians, including Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten. The Bar Association said it was “regrettable” that Hatzmann’s personal opinions have been interpreted as being reflective of those of the Bar Association and its members as a whole. “Given his leadership function within the Bar Association, the Bar Association wishes to emphasise that [Hatzmann’s personal opinions – Ed.] in no way, shape or form reflect the opinions or sentiments of its members,” attorney-at-law Caroline van Hees stated on behalf of the Bar Association.
“The Bar Association sees it as one of its responsibilities to (safe)guard and stand for the rule of law, the fundamental rights of our clients and of the people of St. Maarten. In doing so, the Bar Association will make itself heard in an effective way towards stakeholders, the Courts, or if necessary, via social media or news outlets, if, in our opinion, fundamental rights or the rule of law is or are at stake. We do so objectively, constructively and regardless of the current political trend.”