PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Fourteen members of the Police Force of Sint Maarten KPSM are now equipped with the skills to identify and screen cases suitable for mediation. They are now actively involved in the ongoing “Domestic Violence and Mediation Project, a restorative justice initiative, launched by Stichting Justitiële Inrichtingen St. Maarten (SJIS) and the Prosecutor’s Office OM Sint Maarten.
The police personnel from various departments were asked to share their views on the use of mediation in their work in the recent workshop. This was followed up with the value and application of mediation in criminal cases by mediator Sanne Bartels, Prosecutor Sandra Withfield and fellow KPSM officers Patsy Richardson and Desra Phillip. The workshop facilitators have been involved with this project from its pilot phase in 2021.
A physical assault case study was presented to the participants as part of the workshop. They were given the various roles in the scenario to act out as part of skills strengthening. The avenue allowed the participants to see and tackle issues from several points of views and angles.
Phillip, who received in depth mediation training in 2021, shared her knowledge and actual case experience using mediation skills in her police work, at the workshop. This gave participants another perspective and illustrated the many ways mediation is a helpful tool to have in the toolbox of police and general justice chain. Participants are interested in continuing the conversation on the use of mediation in their work and participating in additional mediation training.
Another example of the use of mediation was in November 2021. One of the cases from the pilot mediation project was presented at Court. The case involved relational (domestic) violence between spouses in a household with minor children. This was an extraordinary case, where the suspect and the spouse agreed to work towards restoring trust and taking part in the Safe Homes Training of SJIS. It was the first time where the Court, the Prosecutor and the attorney acknowledged the process of mediation and where the Court explicitly stated the importance of mediation in a case and took it into account in the sentence.
In the coming months, a three-day mediation skills training will be held for more members of the justice – and social chain, including police officers. This training will go beyond the topics and skills covered in the workshop. In addition, the first batch of mediators trained in 2021 will undergo an in-depth training.
This mediation skill training and workshops continue to build the restorative justice as an alternative approach to conflicts that are usually governed by criminal law, specifically domestic violence cases.
The mediation skills training falls under the Domestic Violence and Mediation Project financed through the Resources for Community Resilience R4CR funding programme, which was implemented by VNG International (the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities VNG) and funded by the St. Maarten Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund to improve the capacity of St. Maarten’s civil society organisations and to support reconstruction and resilience at the community level.