Pursuant to the Constitution of Sint Maarten the Ombudsman is charged to investigate the conduct / behavior of administrative bodies, which includes private entities with public authority (so called “Zelfstandig Bestuurs Orgaan” / ZBO).
After thorough research and consultation with experts and third parties, a preliminary list of such entities has been compiled for Sint Maarten for which the Ombudsman will soon start to accept complaints from the public and initiate investigations under the slogan: ‘If it looks like government, it is government’. In the general interest the Ombudsman is authorized to investigate all actual behavior of private entities charged with government tasks. Protection of the rights of the people takes center stage. Reports in the Netherlands indicated that the criterion for concluding whether an activity of a private entity should be deemed to be considered an act of an administrative is, ‘everything government pays, determines and organizes’. Considering the role of the Ombudsman to promote and protect the rights of the people even when government tasks are privatized, the following criteria were followed by the Ombudsman to compile the list for Sint Maarten: the law, subsidy and public impact of the pertinent entities.
The Ombudsman recently invited and concluded a round of very constructive introductory meetings with most of these entities. Unfortunately a few institutions declined to make use of the opportunity to engage in a productive conversation on this very important issue for the public. Some of the entities listed, such as Cadastre, SZV and the Motor Vehicle Inspection Center are already familiar with the investigations by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman thanks all entities that were present at the meetings for their valuable input towards the discussions, as well as the Minister of Education Culture Youth and Sports, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, who attended the session where the position of the Schoolboards was discussed. A final meeting will be held for the entities, which did not respond positively to the initial invitation.
Follow-up to the session will be given in the coming weeks and the preliminary list of the so- called ZBO’s of Sint Maarten will be published on the website and Facebook page of the Ombudsman.