Council on Law Enforcement presents reports to new Minister of Justice

The Council on Law Enforcement on Monday presented two recent investigation reports to St. Maarten’s new Minister of Justice, Mr. Dennis Richardson. The presentation of the reports came ahead of the justice minister attending the regular half-yearly consultation meeting held between the ministers of Justice from Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Aruba and the Netherlands, to be held in Aruba. 

Mr. Franklyn Richards, chairman of the Council on Law Enforcement presented the two investigation reports, in keeping with the council’s practice of duly informing stakeholders in the judicial chain of current developments, which may have a bearing on crime, safety and security issues. One of the reports addresses issues related to the detective department of the Sint Maarten police organization while the other one deals with youth rehabilitation on Sint Maarten.

Minister Richardson expressed appreciation for the briefing made available by the Council on Law Enforcement about recent and ongoing investigations as well as other developments with regards to tasks and competencies of the Council on Law Enforcement.

In the inspection report on the detective department, the Council on Law Enforcement concludes that many positive developments are evident. These developments contribute to the efficiency of the police force in general and to that of investigation procedures, in particular. The introduction of the community police is mentioned as an example of how the visibility of police has been increased while in the area of forensic investigation, house burglaries and robberies, the objectives have been realized and the intended performance achieved.

A significant bottleneck is that any intended progress of the police force is strongly reliant on the Minister of Justice and other third parties. Essential decision-making in key areas can, in such cases, not be taken in a timely manner, leading to a delay before those decisions are reached and implemented.

The Council on Law Enforcement looks forward to working closely with the Minister of Justice and members of the judicial chain of Sint Maarten, in taking fundamental decisions, resulting in the police management team being facilitated in managing and administering the St. Maarten police organization.

A final conclusion of the Council is that the Police Force of Sint Maarten is moving in the right direction and that it has achieved much since the transition period, made necessary with St. Maarten becoming a country. Investigating procedures used by the detective force has visibly increased and it is now a matter of acting vigorously to implement further improvements without delay, notes the report.

In the second report presented to the justice minister and which dealt with youth rehabilitation in Sint Maarten, the Council on Law Enforcement investigated to what extent the government of Sint Maarten implements and executes policies with reference to the rehabilitation of minors who have committed a criminal act.

The report notes that a properly functioning youth rehabilitation system can prevent minors from repeating a criminal offense or even slide into a career of crime activity. Article 40 of the Convention on the rights of the child contains a clear assignment to member states. It obliges signatories to the article to encourage minors to a constructive role in the society after committing a criminal act.

On Sint Maarten, it is the Court of Guardianship which has juvenile rehabilitation among its responsibilities. The report shows that in Sint Maarten the supervision of minors who have come in contact with the law, is still in its early stages. Among the challenges faced is a lack of sufficient and qualified personnel to carry out those tasks by the Court of Guardianship.

The Council on Law Enforcement applauds initiatives taken by the Ministry of Justice to enhance implementation of the juvenile rehabilitation, under the leadership of the Committee Judicial Youth Policy Plan.

Photo caption: From left to right: Mrs. Marianne Steenbergen (Chief inspector of the secretariat of the Council of Law Enforcement of Sint Maarten), Mr. Franklyn Richards (Chairperson of the Council of Law Enforcement) and Mr. Dennis Richardson, St. Maarten’s new Minister of Justice, during the presentation of the reports on Monday.