Legal Perspective

Legal Perspective (866)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The system is not at fault as far as this perceived constitutional crisis is concerned stated Attorney and former Justice Minister Roland Duncan.

The Attorney at Law stated on Sunday that the resolution of the council of ministers which calls for fresh elections should be signed by the Governor according to the law.

He also stated that the vote of no confidence against the council of ministers by the Parliament of St. Maarten must also be honored and that the council of ministers should resign.

Duncan’s comments came on the PJD2 radio program “breakfast with the Robert”.

According to Duncan, if all the players follow the rules then we will mature, another indication that the system is not at fault but that the players are.

More now via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - A young man in the district of St. Peters was arrested on Monday. The suspect has been charged with rape.

The arrest of the suspect was executed after the suspected victim filed charges against the suspect that was arrested on Monday.

Details on this case is not extensively known and reports on rape cases are not usually released. It is also not known just how prevalent the crime of rape is within our society.

Monday's arrest was conducted by the  Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT).

This team was seen at various locations across the island Monday conducting controls.

On Tuesday the Police Spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson, released a short statement on Monday's arrest which provides more insight into this case. His report can be viewed below.

On Monday October 19th, a young man suspected of rape has been arrested by police. This criminal act took place earlier this year. The suspect was arrested and released due to the lack of evidence. Due to the continuation of the investigation and new technical information that has come forth, the suspect was re-arrested. The suspect remains in custody for further investigation.

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – A new Certificate of Conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) form (formerly Police Record) has been introduced on St. Maarten.

The new form requests additional information of the applicant, which will help to better facilitate the decision-making process with regard to the issuance of a Certificate of Conduct.

The new form, which went into effect September 19, 2015, has been sanctioned by the Minister of Justice, Dennis Richardson by means of a ministerial decree.

A “Certificate of Conduct” is required for various purposes including: employment, business licenses application, adoption, residency, foreign visa application, or school placement.

A petit committee consisting of representative of the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office, the Public Service Center and ICT departments of Government has been charged with the redesign of the application process to ensure a smooth implementation.

Citizens requiring a “Certificate of Conduct” (Police Record) will soon have to apply for this document at Public Service Center Department in Simpson Bay.

This new approach, which includes an online component will help reduce lengthy processing delays experienced in the past and will accelerate the application process.

More information about the start date for the new application procedure will be provided to citizens in a subsequent release.

BES Islands - On Monday, October 19th the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN) has started a recruitment campaign for aspiring police officers. The Force is looking for candidates for the two-year training for police officer which starts soon. With the theme: “Do you have the guts? We have the job!” candidates were called upon to apply on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. On all three islands information sessions are going to be held

OnTuesday, October 27th there will be an information session at Jong Bonaire.

On the Windward Islands an information session will be held on Monday, October 26th at the Police Office on Saba and on Tuesday, October 27th at the Police Office on St. Eustatius. All three information sessions are from 6.30 PM to 8.30 PM.

Interested persons have till October 31st to react. KPCN hopes that, just like during the recruitment campaign in 2014, a lot of interested persons from Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire and the neighboring islands will react.

After October 31st a committee specially designated for this within KPCN, will start working on the letter selection. Afterwards the first interviews will take place.

With the candidates coming out of the first round of talks, various tests and examinations such as the sports test, the language test and the medical examination will then take place.

Applicants will receive notice within two weeks whether or not they have past the first selection round, the letter selection.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - This morning the court of first instance has handed down a decision in the case that the Harbour Holding had submitted an appeal against the building permit of Dock Maarten.

The court declares the Holding non-admissible, in essence because the appeal was submitted too late.

Click on the Judgement below in PDF format for download.

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - On Thursday October 15th 2015 the National Detectives have performed house searches in five locations.

HARBOUR VIEW, Sint Maarten – In light of the current political environment and the ongoing debate His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten, drs. E.B. Holiday considers it important that the population take stock of the situation based on facts and free from the ongoing political maneuvering.

In that regard the Governor wishes to reemphasize that political debate is a prerequisite for growth in any democracy. And the Governor stresses that it goes without saying that for growth such should take place based on facts, peacefully, with mutual respect for the opinions of all sides and with due consideration of the laws governing Sint Maarten.

Considering the political developments of September 30, 2015 involving:

  1. the current Council of Ministers losing its majority support in Parliament
  2. the passing of a vote of no-confidence in Parliament against the current Council of Ministers; and
  3. the subsequent decision of the Council of Ministers later the same day to call for new elections and dissolve Parliament,

The Governor has consulted with the parties involved to get clarity regarding the political situation. In doing so he has encouraged and warned parties, always emphasizing that it is imperative that parties adhere to the democratic principles as laid down in our laws, established in and derived from our constitution.

With regard to the discussions concerning the authorities of Parliament and of the Council of Ministers, it is essential to note that in our dualistic system of government the authorities of both bodies are separate and independent but limited by the rule of law. Our parliamentary democracy gives parties the freedom and right to a difference of opinions. This means, that within or between the two bodies differences of opinions can and will arise from time to time.

Since the start of this political situation the Governor has, to safeguard an orderly constitutional process, consulted with the Prime-Minister, the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, the independent members of Parliament, the Chairman of Parliament and the Vice Chairperson of the Council of Advice starting September 30. Based on the consultations and the information received on October 5, 2015 the Governor established that:

  1. )the new majority in Parliament provides a basis to form a new government;
  2. )that the (Council of) Minister(s) has not yet made their positions available based on article 33, paragraph 2, of the Constitution of Sint Maarten; and
  3. )that the Council of ministers has put a draft national decree forward to dissolve Parliament and call for elections .

In doing so the Governor also returned the draft decree to dissolve Parliament and call for elections to the Council of Ministers without in anyway making suggestions regarding the content thereof and appealed to both parties to meet with each other and discuss the matter within the pertinent forum aimed at finding common ground for an orderly constitutional process to avoid having a governance vacuum.

The Governor, considering the developments and the importance of an orderly constitutional process and his obligation to uphold and to ensure that the constitution is upheld has and continues to encourage and appeal to all parties to act in keeping with the fundamental principles of our parliamentary democracy based on the rule of law.

The Council of Ministers requested various constitutional experts for advice regarding the ongoing political situation. There is however no consensus among the constitutional experts on the cardinal constitutional questions. Meanwhile both parties have maintained their respective positions:

  1. The majority in Parliament continues to call on the Council of Ministers to make their positions available; and
  2. On October 15, 2015, the Council of Ministers has resubmitted a revised draft national decree to dissolve Parliament and call for elections.

Our country is, as a result, faced with two opposing political positions. With the motion of Parliament stating that it no longer supports and has confidence in the current government and that it wishes to form a new government, a political position was taken to form a new government supported by a new majority in Parliament. On the other hand the Council of Ministers has decided not to make its positions available before a new Parliament is elected and a new government is formed based on a new majority in Parliament. In doing so a political position has also been taken.

It is evident that this political situation must in the interest of the country be resolved urgently. Although politics will always play a role in that process, it is imperative that all parties observe the rule of law as established in our Constitution. The current political situation has however given rise to concerns in that regard.

Where there are concerns in regard to political maneuvering, it is not the role of the Governor to dictate what should or what should not be done politically. The Governor is, based on the law and the oath he took to uphold and ensure that the Constitution is upheld, obligated to act in accordance with the law. To the extent that political actions result in constitutional concerns, the Governor must and has therefore warned against such, emphasizing that it is imperative to only execute decisions that are in keeping with the democratic principles as anchored in our Constitution.

To arrive at a balanced and sustainable resolution to the current differences of opinions, the Governor considers it vital to obtain clarity regarding the constitutional conformity of the political positions. Today, he therefore met with and informed parties that he deems it prudent to request a special panel of three judges consisting of judges from the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the Constitutional Court of Sint Maarten, to evaluate the constitutionality of the implementation of the political positions and inform him about it. Based on the current situation the independent panel is requested to evaluate the Constitution of Sint Maarten in the context of Sint Maarten Constitutional Law and provide a clear legal position regarding articles 33 paragraph 2, article 40 paragraph 2 and article 59 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten. Based on the urgency the panel has been requested to provide an advice within 5 working days.

In conclusion, it is not the role of the Governor to dictate the results of differences of political opinions. When political actions result in concerns in regard to their constitutionality, the Governor’s role is to warn and emphasize that it is imperative to only execute decisions that are in keeping with the democratic principles as anchored in Sint Maarten’s Constitution. Where there is significant disagreement between the parties in regard to the constitutionality, the Governor deems it prudent to encourage parties to arrive at a constitutionally sustainable solution. Parties have been informed that the Governor will take further steps once he receives the judicial position.

The Governor, to encourage actions that will foster the resolution of the political differences within the limits of our Constitution, is requesting all parties to subject their positions to the common good for the people of Sint Maarten. The general interest should prevail in the interest of a stronger country. Governor Holiday is herewith appealing to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our constitution based on the rule of law.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - HBN Law, one of the largest and oldest law firms in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, opened the doors of its new Dutch Caribbean Desk in Amsterdam, in perfect Caribbean style.

The colorful opening ceremony was held quite appropriately in the West-Indisch Huis in Amsterdam, the former headquarters of the Dutch West India Company. Among the more than one hundred people who attended the event were numerous businesspeople, attorneys, notaries, and tax specialists the law firm regularly does business with.

HBN Law, which has been active since 1938, currently has 32 attorneys spread over offices in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and now also Amsterdam. In addition, the firm provides its services in Surinam, Sint Eustatius, and Saba. Since 1993, HBN Law has been working together with Pels Rijcken & Drooglever Fortuijn, and since 2013, the firm has been part of the Meritas network, which boasts a worldwide membership of approximately 7,000 attorneys.

"Thanks in part to our international contacts and in-depth local knowledge in the Caribbean, over the past years we have seen a sharp increase in demand for specialist advice on Dutch Caribbean law in a wide sense," says Managing Partner Eric de Vries. "This is certainly enhanced by the fact that our firm consists of a multidisciplinary team of experienced lawyers, part of whom gained experience at various large international law firms like Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, and Baker & McKenzie."

His Partner in the firm Chris van Amersfoort, who is heading the Dutch Caribbean Desk, adds that "Most of our activities consist of referral work from Dutch legal and tax advisers involved in various large transactions ranging from take-overs and joint ventures to financing operations structured via the Dutch Caribbean." Van Amersfoort continues, "We likewise provide regular assistance to companies running project development operations on the islands from the Netherlands. Such operations may include the construction of telecommunication networks, resort development, and the construction of wind turbines and waste management plants."

Jeroen Eichhorn, Senior Partner at the firm and closely involved in the day-to-day operations of the Dutch Caribbean Desk, says, "With our Dutch Caribbean Desk we are meeting the wishes of our clients, in that there is no more time difference and we now have an office in Amsterdam where they can reach us."

The HBN Law firm is located in the World Trade Center in the business district known as the Zuidas. "The Zuidas was an obvious choice: that's where most of our clients are and that's where it all happens," concludes Van Amersfoort.

 

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The manner in which the unknown investigation associated with the house and office search of the Managing Director of the Airport Regina Labega is being conducted raises many concerns.

This was outlined by Attorney Core Merks, the legal counsel for the Managing Director of SXM Airport on Thursday morning.

The Managing Directors private residence and office at SXM Airport were searched by the National Detective Agency.

Merx indicated that the required information about the searches and the associated case however this information is not being provided.

He was very angry that the search was extended to the office of the Managing Director.

He also stated that he believes that this segment of the investigation is politically motivated. He is also of the opinion that two separate cases are being mixed.

More now via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Journalist Fabian Badejoe whose home was searched on Thursday morning told our news room Thursday afternoon about his ordeal on Thursday morning as his home and belongings were searched.

The journalist also confirmed that he has not been charged in any investigation. He also told us that he has nothing to worry about with this investigation.

Badejoe also linked the search of his home with another investigation that saw searches being conducted on Thursday morning as well.

He hinted about the possible involvement of politics in the investigation.

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