PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Law Enforcement Council is a public legal entity that was established by Kingdom Act on July 7, 2010. The Council is charged with the general inspection of the organizations within the judicial chain. The Council is tasked with the role to examine the effectiveness, quality of the performance of tasks and management of the various departments and is also charged with the general inspection of the quality and effectiveness of judicial cooperation between the Caribbean Countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The only institution that is exempted from these reviews is that of the Common Court of Justice.
Over the years, the Council has carried out a number of inspections of the quality of (parts of) the tasks performed by the organizations within the judicial chain. The reports contain a large number of findings, conclusions and recommendations.
It is evident that not all recommendations have been implemented by the various organizations involved. Some of these recommendations date back to 2011, but remain unaddressed. In total there have been 67 recommendations of which the Ministry has a low compliance rate of 41%.
There has been poor compliance ratings with regards to Victim Support (24%), Prostitution Policy (0%), Detention (44%), Admissions and Expulsion of Foreigners (25%) and several others. The Ministry of Justice is in the final stage of establishing the Victim Support Services and is already in the process of strengthening the Immigration and Border Protection Services.
For the upcoming year, the Council will also be adding reviews related to the Weapon Policy and inspecting the Ministry and respective departments on the handling and combatting of illegal firearms on the island.
Continuing with her pursuit to strengthen the Ministry of Justice, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson, finds it imperative to follow the recommendations as outlined by the Law Enforcement Council. As such, Minister Richardson has identified and appointed an official point of contact to solely focus on the implementation of the recommendations and ensure for enforcement going forward.
On December 2nd, 2020, Minister Richardson appointed Ms. Rashirda Hughes as the official liaison between the Ministry and the Law Enforcement Council. Ms. Hughes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and a Minor in Recreation and leisure Services from The Florida State University. Part of her experience working in this field includes working as an investigative intern at the Leon County Public Defender’s office in Tallahassee Florida.
In 2015, Ms. Hughes began working for the Ministry of Justice as a “Medewerker” for the National Reporting Bureau of Human Trafficking (NRB ) at Immigration and Border Protection Services and worked with KPSM on a campaign for the combat against Human Trafficking.
In her capacity as the official liaison, Ms. Hughes will be responsible to review the recommendations of the Law Enforcement Council, follow up with respective departments and ensure the ministry implements the recommendations as outlined by the Council. On Tuesday, December, 8th. 2020, Ms. Hughes and Council representatives had an introductory meeting. To say the least, the Council expressed to the Minister in their monthly meeting that they are pleased with the Minister’s acknowledgement of the Council’s relevance and the steps she has taken to have their recommendations implemented.