Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — The Law Enforcement Council (Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving, hereafter: the Council) is charged with the general inspection of organizations within the justice chain on Curaçao, St. Maarten and the BES islands. The Council is also charged with the general inspection of the quality and effectiveness of the judicial cooperation between the countries.
Since its establishment on July 7, 2010, the Council has been diligently carrying out their duties and published a large number of inspection reports. In their reports, the Council makes recommendations to the Ministry of Justice in general and to Justice entities in particular. Compliance to the imposed recommendations will aid in making the desirable improvements to the current situation in relation to the scope of their inspection.
Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson stated, “Since taking office on March 30, 2020, I have been committed to making structural improvements within the Ministry of Justice and in the field of Law Enforcement in St. Maarten. I am of the strong notion that the work of the Council is essential and is of great value in realizing these improvements. It is therefore disappointing to know that in the last eleven (11) years the recommendations of the Council have not been given the attention that they deserve.”
“It is understandable that noncompliance to the recommendations was partly caused by a lack of financial means, expertise, capacity as well as political stability. However, making the desirable improvements within the Ministry and the Justice chain, a more pro-active approach by our Ministry will be necessary. Compliance to recommendations of the Council, but also to the recommendations of the Progress Committee, Integrity Chamber and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), is essential in this,” Minister Richardson continued.
This pro-active approach was initiated by Minister Richardson and the Department of Judicial Affairs in September 2021. The Department of Judicial Affairs assessed all the recommendations of the Council that have not been fully complied with. These recommendations have been discussed with the Management of the various Justice entities. Creating awareness for the pending recommendations and making compliance a shared responsibility between the Minister, Secretary-General and the Management of the Justice entities, can be considered as the first two imperative steps in this process.
Based on the Kingdom Law on the Law Enforcement Council (Rijkswet Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving), the Minister of Justice is obligated to inform Parliament about the published reports of the Council and to provide a response on the recommendations made by the Council. Subsequently, the Council receives a copy of the letter submitted to Parliament. Unfortunately, these responses to Parliament have been lacking since 2010.
However, today, April 7, 2022, the Ministry of Justice has broken that negative track record. Minister Richardson hand-delivered a response report of twenty-four (24) pages to the 2nd Vice President and Member of Parliament Sidharth Bijlani. MP Bijlani received the response report in the absence of the President and 1st Vice President of Parliament.
In the response report, an extensive elucidation is given on recent improvements within the Ministry which are directly linked to recommendations made by the Council. In addition to that, information is provided on new initiatives of the Ministry of Justice which are planned for the coming two years to further strengthen the Ministry and to guarantee a higher rate of compliance to pending, as well as future recommendations of the Council.
“I am proud that my team and I have broken the negative cycle of non-compliance and non-responsiveness to these valuable recommendations of the Council. We have worked extremely hard in the last two years and the 24-paged response report to Parliament regarding the recommendations of the Council, is just one profound example of that,” stated Minister Richardson.