PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Justice and Acting Prime Minister Rafael Boasman addressed members of the press in Wednesday’s, July 12, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.
He first talked about the recently concluded judicial consultation of Ministers of Justice of the four countries within the Kingdom. “I’m very satisfied with how those meetings went, how those consultations went and the topics that were discussed,” he said.
The whole purpose of this consultation pertained to combating cross border criminality and terrorism. “So all crimes that cross the borders of one of our countries is the topic of conversation and it requires good cooperation between the countries themselves and the different entities working in those countries in law enforcement,” Minister Boasman stated.
“In the age that we’re living in today it’s almost unthinkable to try to solve a crime without having DNA available. But we know DNA is something that could be a very touchy subject, as it pertains also to a privacy issue, and most of the countries in the Kingdom have legislation on privacy issues and they’re not all in sync with each other. But in order to be careful when sharing DNA profiles, in trying to solve crimes, we got together to see how we can put the joint regulation together that would guarantee the privacy issues of those from whom we are exchanging the DNA profiles,” Minister Boasman explained.
“…Three of the four countries were ready with it…Curaçao went through an election and had a new Minister, and the Minister, in principle, is in agreement with the document that was on the table, but requested just some more time so he would be able to make sure that his local legislation is in place. After which then he would join with the other three in the signing. Aruba, the Netherlands and St. Maarten were ready to go ahead and we signed off on that document,” the Minister continued.
Additionally, the Minister explained St. Maarten’s refusal to sign off on the year plan of the RST, which is the Kingdom Cooperation on Detective Services. “I refused, at the time, to approve the year plan, and the budget because of a passage in the year plan, and that said that because of the sensitivity of the group TBO, which is part of the RST, that the information pertaining to that group would only be submitted to the Minister of Kingdom Relations and a Minister of Justice in Holland,” Minister Boasman said.
“Besides the legal objections pertaining to that as far as jurisdictions are concerned, I took serious offense to that passage, because it would imply that we, and de facto, the Minister of Justice of St. Maarten, cannot be trusted with that information. At that time we refused to sign the document,” he explained.
“In February sometime, we sent an official letter to colleagues Ministers of Justice with the reasons why we did not approve it. Aruba and Curaçao had already agreed to it, but one of the things that we also have to realize, that not all of the things that are discussed there, applies equally to the different countries. For instance, the consensus laws, for instance, do not apply to Aruba, and some of the things that we talk about, are different in the countries. So, St. Maarten refused and indicated that we would not do it and gave the reasons why. In May, while on a business trip in Holland, I also met with the Minister of Justice of Holland, and we further discussed and elaborated on that point because it would come back on the agenda for this TBO,” Minister Boasman further informed.
“Aruba in the meantime had supported, although they approved it, they then indicated by letter that they support the position of St. Maarten as far as the passage and the formal authority line that is the RST on St. Maarten…There is cooperation with RST and as far as I know the cooperation is going pretty good, so the problem is not RST,” he continued.
“The problem is that within the RST, a body was created that has no legal basis and was taken out of the authority line by which not the Chief of Police nor the Minister responsible for Justice had any knowledge of what was going on, and that is what we have been protesting about,” Minister Boasman said.
“Minister of Justice of Holland answered my letter and indicated that for January 2018 we would be willing to have the TBO as RST regular with their regular command line as the RST, and therefore hope that I would be able to sign the document. We indicated, no, we have a problem, but that did not solve the problem. We are not talking about something as of 2018, and then for two reasons. If we mention in 2018, we are then assuming that St. Maarten automatically would continue what was a TBO project for 24 months, and then to be evaluated. So we said no, we’re not talking about that, and furthermore the passage in a year plan was still there. That was what we protested to in the end,” the Minister went on to say.
“Eventually in the discussions, it was agreed that that passage was eliminated from the year plan. That the TBO is the same authority line as the RST. So there is no separate body,” he said.
“It is our RST with the same command line. We’re not going to create an autonomous body with superpowers that report to nobody…the year plan has been adapted, not corrected and the whole passage was totally eliminated from the year plan, which made it possible for us to go along with the plan,” the Minister stated.
Additionally, the Minister felt “that after such a long period of time of operating and from what we saw were positive cooperation, positive results, we would like to evaluate and see how, among others, that cooperation has been and we can come to the conclusion that we need to improve on it.”
According to the Minister, the framework within which that evaluation would have to take place, “was taken and we were able to take those decisions by sitting together, mutual respect, making the case why we want to do something and eventually agreeing to how we would go about it.”
“The Chiefs of Police came up with a plan where we would also cooperate on the development of strategic management of the top of the Corps with training, and this we were doing in cooperation with the other countries and especially the Police Academy and in the Netherlands,” Minister Boasman said.
“The Chief of Police will be meeting on this topic in August in Bonaire to finalize the plan, and then report back to us. So training is a very important element. We do not want a situation – and they’ve (RST) all assisted in areas, which are not always their core areas – but they have assisted on our police force, and the whole idea of that assistance is while we have the assistance to do what we need to do, but we also develop our own. Not enough emphasis is put on that training and development part. So we have to make use of the situation that we have,” the Minister stated.
“Part of the training is by involving our own in the process, and not keeping them out and others doing it for us. We have to do it together, so that we will also learn how we need to do it…Because that is the way we would develop our own,” Minister Boasman concluded.