Council publishes State for Law Enforcement 2023 

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The Law Enforcement Council (the Council) presented its State of Law Enforcement (the State) for the year 2023 directly to both the Minister of Justice as well as to the Parliament of Sint Maarten, at the end of April 2024. The Council provides in the State an overview of the inspections carried out in 2023 and the overarching relevant topics. The Council also describes the developments in Sint Maarten and the state of affairs, partly as a result of the agreements made on the basis of the topics of judicial cooperation within the Judicial Quadripartite

The Council sees the topic of cooperation, for the law enforcement chain, as a necessity for Sint Maarten. The State therefore builds on the topic of cooperation, focusing on the (topics of) judicial cooperation between the countries.

Developments Sint Maarten 

Several developments have taken place in 2023, with the most notable being advances in the field of detention and the justice function book. The cooperation in the field of police, the training provided, the cooperation between the Courts of Guardianship with regard to HALT and the use of (possible) specialized equipment can be considered as positive developments.

In addition, there are also topics that require even more efforts. In this context, topics such as steering in general, steering on the follow-up of the Council’s recommendations, combating human trafficking and human smuggling, and combating money laundering and terrorist financing can be mentioned as examples. The structural problems related to the presence of essential preconditions at the various services, such as financial, human and material capacity, also remain a cause for concern.

Furthermore, the Council again indicated that the Council’s reports and the required responses thereto are still not consistently presented to Parliament by the Minister of Justice in accordance with the Kingdom Act Law Enforcement Council. The Council also discusses the subject of ‘systematic non-compliance with recommendations’, noting that there is an increasing number of topics that qualify for the aforementioned.

Judicial cooperation between countries 

All countries want to strengthen their law enforcement chain in order to continue the fight against increasingly complex and often cross-border crime.  As crime does not care about borders, it is increasingly apparent that countries need each other. Cooperation is and will therefore continue to be necessary. There is therefore a dire need for cooperation. The overarching topics highlighted in the State that require judicial cooperation are: police cooperation, the JVO, forensic care and Placement in an Institution for Juveniles (PIJ), and the sharing of information within the Kingdom.

Since 2016, the cooperation between the five police forces within the Kingdom has received an impulse due to the intensification of regional cooperation. The starting point is that a joint approach to cross-border crime is mutually beneficial, for example, regarding the exchange of information and expertise.

One of the structural forms of Kingdom cooperation in the judicial field is the Judicial Quadripartite Consultation. Through structural consultation, concrete agreements, supported where necessary by personnel, material and/or financial support, mutual cooperation is strengthened, and cross-border topics are jointly combated.

Care in a secure environment is ideally a theme that requires far-reaching cooperation between the countries. The JVO has set up a Kingdom work group with the task of formulating a “business case” in the field of forensic care, TBS and PIJ.  Among other things, the aim is to develop basic forensic care for all countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, including an overview of the financial and legal preconditions.

Sharing information within the Kingdom is of great importance for law enforcement. This is widely acknowledged and recognized. Currently, due to new legislation since 2018, the sharing of police and judicial data between the European part of the Kingdom and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom is very complicated. To this end, work is underway on a consensus Kingdom law aimed at providing an appropriate, adequate, and equal level of protection for the processing of this data in all countries. In view of the time frame involved, a workable interim solution is being sought.

In conclusion

The Council is of the opinion that, in addition to a vision for law enforcement, a combination of steering, prioritization, a substantial investment in and between the services as well as cooperation is key for Sint Maarten. In recent years, the Council has specifically pointed out the minister’s primary responsibility for these important topics. In 2023, the Council once again notes that judicial staff continue to work every day for a safer society and expresses its gratitude for this. The Council indicates in its State that, as always, it is looking forward to the coming developments.

The State of Law Enforcement 2023 (available in Dutch and English) with infographic and all other Council publications are available digitally on the following website: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com.