Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Working on Solutions with Regards to Issues Pertaining to the Issuance of Passports

Highlights the Importance of Proper Information Being Given to the Community
In response to questions and concerns from Parliament the Prime Minister of St. Maarten on Friday highlighted that issues that are occurring at the Census Office have her full attention, and that her Cabinet is working diligently in addressing some of the issues which have been at play in the community; “With respects to the matter of the Census Office it was expected that members of Parliament would have brought up the issue of the complaints that have been coming from the public with regards top the processes at the Census Office. There are two issues at play at the moment: The Government of St. Maarten does not issue Passports and secondly: the issue of cleaning up the Civil Registry. When persons go to the Civil Registry to apply for a Passport they may be asked to verify facts, which sometimes means that persons will have to bring new documentation. Critical in this respect is the issue related to the Birth Certificate. This is playing very much in the Community. A case which my office has been dealing with these days particularly pertained to an elderly Dutch Naturalized lady originally from Jamaica who went to renew her passport and was told that she needed a new Birth Certificate from the Jamaica. The elderly lady complied and presented a newly issued birth certificate, however she needed a so-called apostille from the Country of issuance which she was not able to pay for. I am confronted with this on a daily basis because of the cleaning up of the Census Office and the close scrutiny which is done with regarding Government and the Office of the Governor whose responsibility it is to issue Passports. There have even been cases where persons received their Dutch Nationality by mistake and which have been subsequently revoked. I have seen tremendous hardship faced by those who have undergone this; persons have been told that because of certain issues this has led to the revoking of their nationality. I have been in discussion with the Census Office regarding this issue specifically and I am working on finding a solution to assist and give service in this regard. We are currently pushing for a liaising with representatives of the Communities on St. Maarten and communicating with the necessary departments to ensure that there is a smooth process. This is a very important issue which can not be understated; I indicated to Parliament that information to the Public is paramount: the Census Office itself had some small gatherings in the districts in order to inform people of the role of the Census Office and has encouraged persons to contacts them in order to find out if their dossier is in order. Giving information on a consistent basis is key. If someone thought of reminding that elderly lady that she needed an apostille on her birth certificate she would not have been faced by that particular problem. With information many issues can be solved,” stated Prime Minister Wescot-Williams.