Hon.Sarah Wescot-Williams in Connection with Current Investigations and the National SecurityService

In connection with several media reports during the past week, allow me to put some facts forward regarding the National Security Service of St. Maarten (VDSM), a service established by organic law and promulgated in 2010 (PS 2010, no.4)

The National Security Service of St. Maarten, while under the political responsibility of the Minister Of General Affairs (Prime Minister) operates independently from the government apparatus to not only effectively ensure compliance with the laws governing the agency, but to also ensure the credibility of the young service with its international peers and thus be as effective as possible in averting or mitigating any threats to our national security. Political involvement in the daily operations of the service would undermine the capacity of the service to execute its tasks effectively in a national and international setting.

The National Security Service is duty bound to look into all matters relating to threats to the national security of St. Maarten. In the execution of its tasks, I must emphatically stress that it is not standard operating procedure for the National Security Service to share information with non-governmental organizations or individuals. It is therefore not for the National Security Service to hand over information to third parties, outside of the law governing the service.

The service has thus far performed its duties in accordance with its obligation to uphold the law under all circumstances.

The ordinance governing the National Security Service does allow for the service to seek cooperation and support from either peer organizations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and/or other reputable security and/or intelligence agencies. Such requests for assistance or support must however comply with the laws of the country receiving the requests and must of course be in adherence with our national laws.

Information imbedded in such a request can only be shared by the agency of the receiving country with the explicit permission of our National Security Service. Unauthorized sharing of information would lead to the agencies discontinuing their cooperation and thus weakening the ability to ensure the integrity of our administrative apparatus, our democratic order and the safety or interest of St. Maarten and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Furthermore, a similar form of cooperation exists when collaboration is needed from local law enforcement agencies. The necessary permissions must be granted for the National Security Service to seek the cooperation of a law enforcement agency or vice versa. Notions that the National Security Service of St. Maarten may not have acted in the interest of this country are therefore refutable and threatens the very fabric our young democracy.

We can’t prevent public sensationalism, yet as a country it would be good for all of us and our island to allow matters to be solved by those who are called in accordance with the laws of the land, and are the ones to investigate and establish the facts.

Until then…I ask especially the people of St. Maarten to not get caught up in the same sensationalism I referred to earlier and especially that which is damaging to our country.

I also expect that the government of St. Maarten as such will be respected, especially by members of other governments within the Kingdom. We respect them and we expect the same treatment from them.

We made much effort to ensure that the democratic foundation of our country was a solid one, in ensuring that the laws governing any situation and any governmental agency, especially those charged with investigating and prosecuting were put in place, as well as the checks and balances of one on the other and within their own realms.

It is unsubstantiated at this time to hammer on the guarantee function of the Kingdom, which in my opinion is absolutely not in play, because the system of guaranteeing proper governance and integrity is governed and upheld by our laws. There is absolutely not a situation where any of the agencies are non-functional, or laws being trampled or circumvented, as would be required to even think, let alone speak of something like the Kingdom exercising its responsibility in accordance with art. 43 of the Charter of the Kingdom.

I know it is not the government of the Netherlands that has been making these derogative statements about the government of St. Maarten in general, but on the other hand, I keep my statement general with respect to "respecting the government and people of St. Maarten as we respect other governments and government members in the Dutch Kingdom