~ Minister de Weever, “There is only one police force. That is KPSM, and they all fall under the responsibility of Chief Carl John.” ~
PHILIPSBURG – In Wednesday’s, August 15, Press Briefing, Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever gave a brief update on issues within his Ministry.
He gave details on what’s been happening at the police station. He informed that reconstruction at the police station has started. “We have received some direct funding. On Friday, we received close to NAf. 1.3 million, and that was allocated. So we’re going to be using that for the following projects as well as the replenishing of the vehicle fleet. We expect 10 new vehicles and that should bring our fleet back up to 50 percent,” Minister de Weever informed.
He also stated that upgrading uniforms, the dispatch center and reinforcing police headquarters and substation were also on the agenda to be worked on. In addition, contracts were signed for 9 camera surveillance systems to ensure that the camera project is a success.
In addition, St. Maarten also received a container from the Dutch police training facilities. “There’s a lot of material that has been provided to us, and they will be used at one of the locations that have been identified because they’re also going to be training personnel there,” the Minister said. Some 15 recruits will start training, and in 2019 a second group of 15 will start as well.
In the question and answer session, 721news addressed a number of questions to the Prime Minister and then to the Minister of Justice.
To Prime Minister Leona Marlin, it was asked that clarity be provided on the position of the government of St. Maarten on international laws like the United Nations and the European agreement that Holland signed, as it regards freedom of press, and media houses.
721news representative Gromyko Wilson referred to an incident where he was hampered from reporting at the scene of an accident earlier this week. “Interrupting me doing my work is going to put St. Maarten on a blacklist the moment I file my complaint,” and the concern is that there was a violation of this agreement.
The Prime Minister responded: “In regards to where the government stands as it relates to international laws, the UN European laws about freedom of press, and that St. Maarten is basically a signatory, being part of the Kingdom. I can state that because we are within the Kingdom we must respect all international laws regarding the freedom of press. So that is where the government stands as it relates to freedom of speech. We are part of that treaty and we must respect them as well as any law that’s under international ruling.”
721news then addressed the Minister of Justice and asked if the Dutch police were operating of their own accord or if they were under the wing of the St. Maarten police. Wilson indicated that the reason for the question was on the night of the incident, a superior ordered the Dutch police to remove the shackles from his hand, and he clearly stated that the officer was not his superior.
So, 721news wanted clarity on the operation of the Dutch police. Was the constitution of St. Maarten changed to accommodate the police force of Holland? Under whose authority was the Dutch police operating?
According to Minister de Weever, “There is only one police force. That is KPSM, and they all fall under the responsibility of Chief Carl John.”
721news also asked the Minister of Justice about the uniforms for police; when would the Dutch vehicles that came from Holland with Dutch license plates change to the St. Maarten license plate. “…Because you’re going to be controlling those vehicles to people and you are violating the traffic ordinance.”
Finally, 721news wanted confirmation of a story that Chief Customs Officer Anthony Doran had been arrested at the border control by French authorities for being intoxicated, and that after handing him over to Dutch authorities, he was carried home, and they never reported this incident in a police report.
Minister de Weever said the police uniforms should be coming in September. As to the change in a number plate, “I believe that as government, as a police we have to lead by example. Respect is a two-way street and if we try to hold some kind of double standard, it will send the wrong message. So I am very much aware and everyone will be following the law as they’re supposed to.”
On the matter of Officer Doran, he is on leave, and pending a report of the incident, the Minister refrained from making any further comments.
“The requests for additional information went to both sides, so I will be able to get an objective report on what needs to be done next, or if anything needs to be done. So again we have to be very careful,” de Weever stated.
He also mentioned the installation of a Complaints Committee, “for situations like yours, as well as others and that Committee is being put in place so that we do have somewhere where the citizens of a country can go and report anything, and we want that independence of that Committee to be able to address these issues, because you can’t just rely on internal affairs, for example. Because we need to have that independence and that objective body to address any kind of complaint.”