Minister Doran: the Ministry of Justice is on the right track.

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — I didn’t take office to be the “typical” Minister, but to truly work for the people.

Honorable Minister of Justice Egbert Jurendy Doran, who took office exactly 7 weeks ago, on November 19th, 2019, said that although the Justice Ministry faced many challenges when he took over, with a concerted effort, he was able to see great progress take place in the Ministry over the short period.

The Minister, who came in with determination, persistence and commitment, immediately got acquainted with the department heads and was updated on the functioning and state of affairs of each department that falls under his Ministry.

Goals were set and the Minister committed himself to achieve them.

The Minister encountered many serious unattended issues, some of which were put on the back burners for as long as nine (9) years.

Here is a short outline of some of the issues that Minister Doran was able to almost immediately deal with and solve during his short time in office.

1.    End prison strike and made some changes to outdated policies

Inmates at the Point Blanche Prison were on strike since October 23rd, 2019. Due to the tense situation and the overall safety for the guards and the inmates at the institution, the situation was one of the Minister’s first priorities. The minister first met with the director of the prison and then had a meeting with the inmates association and addressed some 20 grievances, bringing the month long strike to an end. In his opinion, getting that issue resolved, meant taking care of the safety of the workers and those incarcerated.

2.    Establishing CFATF committee

During the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) plenary meeting on November 28th, 2019, it was determined that Sint Maarten must improve on certain recommendations in order to exit the third round of mutual evaluations and have the Public Statement that was issued revoked during the upcoming plenary meetings that will take place in May of 2020.

In order to assist in exiting the Public Statement, the Minister has committed himself to establishing a National Anti-Money Laundering Committee, which will include members of the business community, the banking community, experts from the tax office department, in addition to the existing members from MOT and Justice. The task force will work together on rectifying the outstanding CFATF recommendations and coordinate all efforts regarding anti-money laundering and terrorist financing in Sint Maarten.

3.    Established committee to deal with Law Enforcement Council recommendations

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Law Enforcement Council (‘Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving’) carried out inspections of the Prison at the request of the Ministers of Justice of the Kingdom (JVO), this in connection with the monitoring of the Human Rights (CPT) recommendations. Several independent recommendations were made by the Council.

In order to ascertain solutions, propose courses of action and to monitor the compliance of the proposed recommendations, Minister Doran is establishing a committee that will be specifically tasked with this role in regard to the recommendations of the Council.

The Minister has agreed to meet with the Council every month in order to review the progress of the proposed recommendations.

4.    Signed covenant for ankle bands

On the 20th of December 2019, Minister Doran was able to sign a covenant between the different services within the Ministry of Justice (KPSM and the Public Prosecutor’s office) in order to facilitate electronic monitoring of inmates. One of the most important aims of introducing the Electronic monitoring system is to bring relief to the capacity of the Prison in Point Blanche which is currently at its maximum.

5.    New foster home

The Minister of Justice, has taken note of the closure of the I-Can Foundation on the 31st of December 2019. Six (6) children were remaining in the home for which homes were found. In the meantime it was possible to also find a suitable home for the minor who was away on vacation during the holidays.

With the closing of the I-Can foundation the Minister deems it necessary that a structured children’s home with capable personnel, be established. In the coming weeks the Minister will be exploring the possibilities for a New home for the children. 

6.    Came to a consensus on the positions and ‘appointment year’ for some eighteen police officers

The class of 2011 consisted of eighteen (18) cadet police officers. In May 2017 twelve of the cadets took government to court in order to be placed in their correct position(s) respectively the correct year (‘appointment date’). Although the officers were carrying out duties as police officers all these years, on paper they are Cadets, because of some discrepancy as to which year they would be promoted from trainee to police officer (‘Agent’) and subsequently from police officer to Sergeant (‘brigadier’).

On the 13th of December 2019, the Minister, after obtaining official information on the case, met with the officers, management of the police force and other stakeholders, came to a consensus on the disputed ‘appointment year’ and their positions. The payments along with the correct status will be granted retroactively to all eighteen officers.

 

7.    Found legal basis to execute Police officers payments

Another important achievement on the slate of current Minister of Justice Egbert J. Doran, is the payment for the Police Force of Sint Maarten. This is a matter that has been lingering for nine (9)long years, whereby the workers of KPSM have been in continued uncertainty. In order to make a complete assessment of the problem, Minister Doran sat with the various Unions representing KPSM and came to realize that there was a legal basis missing for the payments.  Upon realizing this, the Minister requested his team within the Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with the staff of other relevant ministries, to prepare the legislative tool that was needed in order to make the payment necessary. This was done in the form of a National Decree (LBham) and an accompanying note of explanation (NvT,).

The salary tables for the KPSM were established, for both the police civil servants tasked with executive roles and those with supportive roles, therefore completing the needed legal basis.

The Minister of Justice then requested an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers which was held on Tuesday, December 31st, and championed the cause there.

The document was approved, and has been submitted to the Governor and will be forwarded to the Council of Advice (RvA). Once this legislative route is complete this National Decree will be published and entered into force.

8.    Minister Doran returned civil servants to work that are on the payroll, but not actively working for years without legal basis.

It came to the Minister’s attention that there were civil servants within the justice ministry that are on the payroll, but are not actively working.  After careful review of each case, the Minister decided that some eight (8) civil servants will be returning to work in their respective functions. It involves civil servants from Judicial Affairs, Customs and the Police department. The employees will be returning to work this week.

9.    Established Management Team (MT) at the Customs Department

The Minister established a new Management Team (MT), consisting of three persons at the Customs Department. The purpose of the MT is to make decisions and guide the day-to-day organizational operations of the department.

Minister of Justice Egbert Jurendy Doran, thanks all workers under the Justice Ministry for their tireless efforts in keeping Sint Maarten safe in all aspects. He encourages them to continue doing all that they can despite the hurdles that may come.

“Sint Maarten needs to be able to count on you at all times” the Minister said.

The Minister also wishes to thank the staff at his cabinet, the department heads and all other stakeholders at the Ministry of Justice for their individual roles played in getting things done.

In closing Minister Doran stated that he will ensure, that together with those in charge of the various departments, restructuring and revitalizations take place, in order to ensure that all departments are being run on an acceptable level.