LATEST ARTICLES

Central Committee meeting of Parliament regarding the composition of the Permanent & Ad hoc Committees of Parliament & Committees of the Latin American Parliament

  PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in a Central Committee meeting on March 4, 2024.   The Central Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday at 14.00 hrs. in the Legislative Hall at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg.  The agenda points are:
  1. Advice regarding the installation and composition of the Permanent and Ad hoc Committees of Parliament
  2. Advice regarding the installation and composition of the Committees of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino)
Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. All persons visiting the House of Parliament must adhere to the house rules.  The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.  The parliamentary sessions will be carried live on TV 15, Soualiga Headlines, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the internet www.sxmparliament.org, www.pearlfmradio.sx and www.youtube.com/c/SintMaartenParliament 

Officers Apprehend four (4) suspects who may be involved in several incidents in Simpson-bay.

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  In the early hours of March 3rd, 2024, at approximately 02:30 AM, three male victims reported to the Philipsburg Police Station, reporting a shooting incident. They recounted being fired upon while on Welfare Road, providing details that the suspects were driving a white KIA Picanto, though the license plate remained unidentified. Responding to the incident, the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) deployed several patrols to the vicinity where the shooting should have happened. An investigation was initiated in the area in connection with the shooting. Witnesses soon came forward, disclosing that a group of young men were engaged in car break-ins near a prominent restaurant at the intersection of Welfare Road and The Corner Road. These witnesses indicated that it was a group of about four (4) young men driving a white car who were breaking into the cars in the area. The suspects’ mode of transportation was given as a white KIA Picanto with a French license plate. Armed with this information, patrols were redirected to conduct thorough searches of the surrounding areas, including Cole Bay and Simpson Bay. At about 03:50 AM, patrol officers spotted a white KIA Picanto matching the description provided, driving on the Welfare Road near The Movies. Upon closer inspection, officers observed four young males within the vehicle. Ther were stopped and controlled by the patrols. A search of the car ensued, revealing incriminating evidence, including items commonly used to break car windows and a revolver containing one spent casing. All four individuals—identified as J.J., J.J.L., E.F. (minor), and P.R.—were promptly apprehended and transported to the Philipsburg Police Station for further interrogation and processing. The suspects are currently detained at the Philipsburg Police Station, where they will remain pending ongoing investigations into their involvement in this shooting incident and any related criminal activities. The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) urges anyone with additional information regarding this incident or related criminal activities to come forward and assist in the ongoing investigation. Police can be reached at +1 721- 542 22 22 or the anonymous tip line. on 9300 (free of charge). You can also leave a Private Message via our Facebook page. (Police Force of Sint Maarten – Korps Politie Sint Maarten).

Serious Hit-and-Run Incident on February 29, 2024

  Cole Bay, St. Maarten – The Traffic Department of the St. Maarten Police Force is actively investigating a serious hit-and-run incident that occurred on February 29th, 2024, at approximately 22:45 local time. At the mentioned time, Police Central Dispatch received multiple distress calls reporting a female victim lying in the middle of the road at the Crossing of Welfare Road and Welfare Drive in Cole Bay. According to witnesses, the victim was allegedly struck by an unknown vehicle that fled the scene immediately after the incident. In response to the calls, several police patrols and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the location. Upon arrival, officers and ambulance personnel found a female victim lying on the ground with noticeable injuries. The victim was provided with immediate first aid by the ambulance crew and swiftly transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) in critical condition. The Police and Traffic Department cordoned off the area and commenced their investigation into the incident. Despite efforts, there were no eyewitnesses to the accident. Officers conducted an extensive area search and reviewed surveillance footage to ascertain the sequence of events leading to the incident, albeit with limited success. Further medical examination revealed that the victim suffered bruises to her face and upper body and also internal organ bleeding and had to underwent emergency surgery. She is currently in critical but stable condition at the SMMC. The St. Maarten Police Force is urging anyone with information regarding the accident or who may have witnessed the incident to come forward and assist with the investigation. Information can be provided to the Traffic Department directly or via email at traffic@policesxm.sx. Any information, no matter how small, could prove crucial in bringing the perpetrator to justice and ensuring the safety of our community. The personnel of the traffic department can be reached by telephone number 542 22 22, with extensions 241/239. The Police Force of St. Maarten appreciates the cooperation and support of the public in this matter and remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of all residents and visitors.

Governor Baly receives update on formation from formateur Mercelina

  Harbour View – On the 28th of February 2024, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency Mr. A.G. Baly met with formateur Dr. L.F.E. Mercelina and received an update on the progress regarding the pending points of the formation. Considering that the background screening of candidate ministers is still ongoing, the formateur therefore requested a further extension of his commission to form a new government.  Governor Baly as a result and having assessed the situation extended the commission for Dr. Mercelina to present him the final report of the formation process by March 29, 2024.

CAft: “Use the momentum to make the economy more resilient” 

  Oranjestad – The economy of Aruba is growing in a prosperous way. The public finances are showing a positive image as well. It is important that Aruba uses its current financial position to structurally put its government finances in order and make the economy more resilient. In this regard a prudent budgetary policy remains as important as ever, considering the high interest expenses. Structural reforms in the social security and the labor market ensure greater resilience. Debt reduction The budget for 2024 was adopted on time and it amply meets the central budget standard of a surplus of at least 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2024 as well as multi-annually. However, there are some risks too. The interest expenses, which already take up almost a fifth of the budget, may increase even further due to the refinancing task in the coming years. This will lead them to crowd out other expenses or investments more than ever before. Debt repayment therefore remains of importance. Investments Investments are needed to build a more resilient economy and to increase the income generating capacity. In that context, the CAft applauds the intention to budget an increase in investments to AWG 115 million in 2028. To ensure the effectiveness of these investments, it is important to draw up a multi-annual investment agenda which is linked to the policy objectives, including those from the Country Package. Reforms  With the current budgetary space for the country as well as for the social funds, it is now the time to implement the necessary reforms to strengthen the economy. In healthcare, specific actions are taken to achieve structural control of healthcare expenses. In principle, the CAft welcomes an expenditure calendar as a management tool, provided it actually helps to decrease the healthcare expenses. With regard to social security, now that the funds are positioned favorably, Aruba could consider reforms that would also make the labor market more dynamic. Aruba now has the luxury of being able to implement reforms without necessarily causing an increase of the expense burden. In fiscal matters, in 2023 Aruba took a first step to make its tax system more robust. However, the indirect taxation system remains fragmented, and therefore unnecessarily complex. A simpler system, in the form of a value-added tax (btw), is recommended and will benefit compliance.   

2024 SMVTS Career Fair

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  The St. Maarten Vocational Training School’s (SMVTS) annual Career Fair took place on Tuesday 27th February, 2024.  The theme of this year’s fair was “Build Bridges and Benefit”.  It was evident that bridges were built, especially with organizations that participated for the first time.  First time participants which were also booth favourites were, Excellent Drivers Driving School, Ferocity Beauty, Labelleart and The Royal Funeral Home.  Our loyal participating organizations in attendance were TELEM N. V., University of St. Martin, NIPA, Government of St. Maarten’s Ambulance Department, Fire Department, Collective Prevention Services, St. Maarten Library, St. Maarten Medical Center, Red Cross and White and Yellow Cross.  Student ushers welcomed and served the organizations during the day.  The remainder of the student body visited each booth set up in classrooms throughout the SMVTS campus.  Students networked with the participating organizations via discussions, presentations and demonstrations, to get a better understanding of job training and employment opportunities within these organizations that are available to them. The event, organized by the SMVTS Career Counselor, Ashayna Nisbett, was deemed a success by all. She hopes that by hosting these events annually, new organizations will also want to participate and support our future workforce.  SMVTS is extremely thankful to everyone who made time to motivate and build bridges with our school and our students. Feel free to visit the Facebook Page: SMVTS for pictures of the event.  

Sint Maarten Police Force Addresses Concerns Amidst Circulated Social Media Video

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  The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) is aware of a recent video circulating on social media platforms depicting a female, likely from one of the neighboring islands, making violent and threatening statements concerning her family’s safety allegedly due to incidents involving school fights here on Sint Maarten. The KPSM acknowledges the frustration and concern surrounding the ongoing issue of school fights within our community. We understand the gravity of the situation and the impact it has on individuals and families. Together with our partners including the Public Prosecution office and other stakeholders, we are engaged in efforts to address and mitigate this problem. It is crucial to emphasize that threats and violence are not acceptable means to resolve conflicts or address grievances. KPSM unequivocally condemns the statements made by the individual in the circulated video. Such behavior only exacerbates the existing challenges we face as a community. The police are investigating the incidents related to school fights. Additionally, we are in contact with both local and regional partners to address the concerns raised by the individual in the video. We urge members of the community to refrain from resorting to violence or making threats, and instead, to cooperate with the authorities to address issues through legal and constructive channels. The safety and well-being of all residents and visitors of Sint Maarten remain our top priority.

Incident Involving Minor in Possession of Suspected Firearm

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  The Police Force of Sint Maarten is busy investigating an incident involving a minor in possession of a suspected firearm. On Wednesday, February 28th, 2024, a student attending one of the high schools in the South Reward area was recorded with what appeared to be a firearm in his possession. The video footage also captured the student flaunting the firearm to fellow students in close proximity to the school premises. Upon receiving and evaluating the video evidence, and following consultation with the Prosecutor’s Office, it was determined imperative to apprehend the individual involved. With the assistance of community officers of that area together with detectives, information was swiftly gathered to identify the student, who was notably wearing a school uniform at the time of the incident. The identified student, approximately 16 years old, was located and subsequently arrested by the police on Thursday, February 29th, 2024. He is currently being held at the police station pending further investigation into the matter. The Police Force of Sint Maarten strongly urges parents to seize this opportunity to engage in conversations with their children regarding the perils associated with firearms, drugs, and involvement in school fights. Such dialogues are vital in fostering awareness and understanding among youth about the potentially devastating consequences of these actions. The safety and well-being of our community, particularly our youth, remain paramount priorities for the Police Force of Sint Maarten. KPSM is committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for all residents, and we will continue to work to address these situations. We encourage anyone with additional information relevant to this case or any other suspicious activities to come forward and assist the police. robberies to contact the Sint Maarten Police Force, at +1 721- 54222 22 or the anonymous tip line on 9300

BHRO objected in a letter to State Secretary van Huffelen on the recent media publication regarding meetings in Holland on the development of civil society infrastructure in Bonaire

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BHRO holds Consultative Status with United Nations ECOSOC and is an Associate Member of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and has represented Civil Society in Bonaire for the past 18 years. Our voice has resonated on numerous occasions at civil society platforms within the UN Headquarters in New York/Geneva/Vienna and in international platforms. However, it is disheartening that we are neither accepted nor formally invited by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations, RCN Slavery-past Caribbean Netherlands and Bonaire government to similar events in Netherlands, Curacao, Aruba, St Maarten and our own island Bonaire.

We are often treated as unwanted guests, where in Bonaire we were asked to leave the room by Jan Helmond Head of RCN and not allowed to attend the meeting when Minister van Gennip on 19 December 2022 came to apologize for the Dutch slavery crimes. When we decided to attend on our own as in St Maarten last September, and as we cover our own expenses, where we were nearly kicked out of the meeting as evidenced by our experience at the “Reflection of our Slave Past” event hosted by State Secretary van Huffelen.

Unlike some organizations on Bonaire that enjoy funding and support, BHRO operates independently and without such privileges. We do not benefit from free trips around the world to repeat the narratives dictated by Dutch institutions and government agendas. Such example as ex-governor Rijna as a Dutch appointed Special Envoy. Instead, we speak truthfully about the harsh realities of poverty, discrimination, and the displacement faced by the natives of Bonaire, drawing from our firsthand experiences on the ground.

Our intent is not to criticize our fellow colleagues who attend these events but plead to them to consider the valuable perspectives of longstanding organizations like ours, which have contributed significantly to the discourse on Bonaire, the Kingdom, the Caribbean and Globally.

Lack of Inclusivity: In order to truly represent the voices of the people of Bonaire, it is essential to involve a wide array of stakeholders in the development process. Without clear mechanisms for Transparency, Accountability, and Inclusivity there is a risk that the development of civil society infrastructure will not adequately serve the needs of the community. Any efforts to strengthen civil society in Bonaire must acknowledge and address the ongoing impacts of colonialism on the island. It is essential that the development process is inclusive and representative of all segments of Bonaire’s population including Bonaire Human Rights Organization board members that have over 20 years experience.

We hope that the newly Holland appointed program manager to start put the comma after the “Apology” of the Dutch slavery-past and crimes of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations and State Secretary van Huffelen would strive to real inclusivity and invite Bonaire Human Rights Organization and not keep repeating the colonial history of divide and rule.

We urge the organizers to address these concerns and ensure that all voices are heard and represented in the process.

CFATF Evaluation: Will St. Maarten pass the Anti-Money Laundering Test?

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St. Maarten In today’s world, following rules against money laundering and terrorism financing isn’t just about obeying laws—it’s about keeping organizational integrity. In September 2024, St Maarten is being evaluated by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to make sure it’s up to scratch with these rules. It’s crucial for all businesses here to have strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing practices. St Maarten faces a crucial evaluation later this year, by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) regarding its compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) standards. Since 2012, St Maarten’s adherence to these standards has been closely watched.  “The CFATF evaluation is not just a routine check-up; it carries significant implications for St. Maarten’s reputation and economic stability” according to Benno van Leeuwen, Managing Director Compliance Caribbean. “A favorable evaluation can ensure continued international cooperation and access to global financial markets. It’s essential for all financial entities to comply, as failure to do so could raise costs and disrupt international transactions.”  Compliance Caribbean is organizing several trainings on St Maarten to support (non) financial institutions in their preparations. More information can be found at  https://compliance-academy.corsizio.com/