PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo must resign from his post immediately for not tending to the safety of the country and for not taking measure to keep weapons out of Pointe Blanche Prison, says United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger.
“More and more information is coming out about the situation at the prison including talk that the Justice Minister was told about the possibility of a gun in prison and about it being in the hands of inmates,” said Heyliger. If this is indeed so, it is yet another reason for the Minister to step down.”
“People are scared. If a gun can turn up in prison, what else is possible? Are our prison guards safe rather do they feel safe when on the job,” Heyliger asked. “This situation is simply ludicrous. Lives of prison guards or prisoners should not be played around with.”
Kirindongo must tender his resignation now and the short period leading up to September 26 Parliamentary Elections should not be a fact in why he should stay on, said Heyliger.
“This is about safety and security of our country. When St. Maarten people are worried about possible blowback from this shooting in prison and are nervous at home and in the street, it’s the top justice official who should be out there calming fears. Instead, we saw two other shootings. One victim survived and the other has resulted in yet another young man in the morgue,” the UP leader said.
The past week shows clearly that there are too many guns in the country in the wrong hands, stated Heyliger. “This past week is not the only time gun violence and the harm of illegal weapons have come to the forefront. And what has the Justice Minister done? Nothing, absolutely nothing to clean up the streets.”
Guns on the street are a chronic issue, but a loaded gun smuggled into prison is an entirely different ballgame, Heyliger said. “The only decent thing to do in face of this gross lapses of duty by the Justice Minister is for him to resign now,” said Heyliger.
The spike in crime could be linked to the so-called balance budget presented by the National Alliance (NA)-led Government, said Heyliger.
“The shotgun budget of the Finance of Minister was robbed our justice services of all the equipment and support needed to combat crime sufficiently. It is wonderful to boast of a balanced budget, which by the way we are slowly learning is less balanced, it is quite another when real guns take real lives, because our justice chain is neglected,” said the UP leader.