First of all, I would like to welcome you all warmly, on behalf of Roos Barelds, Director of the Probation Office of the BES-islands, and myself, at the official opening of this new building of the Public Prosecutor's and Probation Office on Statia.
I also welcome you on behalf of Mr. Dick Piar, the Attorney-General of the BES Islands, who unfortunately, due to circumstances, cannot attend today. We cordially welcome in his place the solicitor-general of St. Maarten and the BES Islands, Mr. Taco Stein who represents Mr. Dick Piar. Furthermore I welcome the Governor of St. Eustatius, Mr. Gerald Berkel, who has expressed his willingness to contribute his thoughts on the significance of the Prosecution and Probation activities on his island. I am much obliged to him.
I appreciate enormously that the representative of the Minister Of Safety and Justice, Mr Just Stam, is present and willing to do the official opening and say some words. Many thanks!
Yesterday we did about the same in Saba. We opened a beautiful building for the Public Prosecutor's office BES and the Probation office as well. This implies both my speeches have much of the same characteristics.
However, what I say today is not an exact copy of what I said yesterday, but there might be some similarities, like mentioning lots of names of people who were invited and attended to witness this ceremony, but that it would take too much time so that I immediately will go over to the order of the day, for just as the case was yesterday, I am proud chief prosecutor of the Public Prosecutor's office BES stands in front of you. And why proud?
Because the young and small Prosecutor's office BES has succeeded in having splendid buildings on all 3 islands. And all this was realized within 2 years after the transition. In January of this year we opened a very fine office building in Bonaire, yesterday we opened a similar office building in the Bottom, Saba, and today we are in Statia, in the historical Fort Orange, where a beautiful workplace will be opened.
Ladies and gentlemen. Today I will not withhold the following. This embodies in various respects a beautiful symbolism: here in Fort Orange we find adequate working space where the workers will feel at ease and safe, and where they will experience the stimulus to come to a good and solid approach for the benefit of the entire island population.
This Prosecutor's office too lies in the heart of town, which means accessibility and involvement, but especially also visible co-responsibility for integral safety.
It is furthermore obvious, that we want to take and share that responsibility with others; we are at a stone's throw of the government building and police station and other chain partners, and we share the building – just like in Saba – with the Probation office.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen – that's what I said yesterday too – the Public Prosecutor's office shares the building with the Probation office. When ordinary people do things like that, living together, people say jokingly,.... they are living in sin...., but here it's totally different. When Prosecution and Probation share the same building, we call this the ultimate realization of justice chain cooperation. Each with their own responsibility – surely- but under one roof and cooperating together.
I assume the director of the Probation services, Mrs. Roos Barelds, to say something about this too.
In the past two years the Prosecutor's office BES and Statia had to get used to each other, but got to know one another well, because of the experiences and events over the years.
For one, for instance, take the introductory approach of the phenomena 'domestic violence'. As Chief Prosecutor I expressly stipulated on October 11th 2010 that the guidelines of our attorney general pertaining to domestic violence have to be carried out. A stop was put to the so called assistance and mediations; interventions had to be made as meant in the guidelines.
But not everyone was happy about this: complaints about privacy violations even reached the media. Notwithstanding, the Prosecutor's office, together with the police and other chain partners held their ground for maintaining those values and standards. It looks as if this goal has been internalized.
In many domestic violence cases an 'Aggression and Regulation Training' is imposed. Partners of convicts often indicate that they want to follow this Training on a voluntary base, because they understand, that if the relationship is to continue, the solution has to come from both sides.
Through the intervention of Police, Prosecution and the probation officer the understanding and willingness developed, to actively come to a behavior-change at this point. A change that surely will benefit the children.
Since 10-10-2010 the Prosecutor's Office BES provided for a professional Public Prosecutor in the person of Marleen Overmeer, as well as for continuation of the Prosecutor's Office representation on the island in the person of the acting Public Prosecutor, Jacques van der Horde, who has been acting Public Prosecutor for many years already and who we want to keep in this role for the time being.
Since 10-10-2010 Statia did not stay quiet and peaceful. It had detainees immediately after the transition of the three islands. Furthermore Statia over the past two years was confronted with some big criminal cases. Cases that demanded much input of the Prosecutor's office and the judicial chain partners and forced the Prosecutor's office to organize various transports of detainees from Saba and Statia to Bonaire.
The police force on Statia had its changes too and did its utmost to face continuous capacity problems that seem to dominate our lives as public servants.
Just like yesterday, -on the one hand- I briefly refer to the continuously needed and failing detention capacity (the date of construction of a House of Detention in Statia moves up every year with a year, or so it seems or feels), the problems with the police cells, the physical distances to be bridged between the islands, and -on the other hand– the creativity with regards to these phenomena of the justice tripartite and the Justice chain partners confronted with these problems. In this respect I mention the project: 'Responsible release', the Electronic surveillance, the execution of the punishment of community service, and the youth project, and I have to mention the name of James Williams with regards to the aforementioned.
Much time and many efforts, especially by Marleen Overmeer, were put in developing the judicial chain cooperation.
Just like in Bonaire before, we started with Youth and Domestic violence Case Meetings.
We, in cooperation with the probation office and the police, strive for a constantly better and more intense cooperation for 'a hands-on policy and approach'. This will increase clarity to the community, the victims and the suspect at short notice and the required aid, if present, can start as soon as possible.
Like I said yesterday, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen, we, law enforcement and judicial organizations, find through our cooperation and chain meetings a solution for many challenges, a solution that has to contribute to Statia staying a safe and peaceful island, where life is friendly and pleasant.
Having said this, I keep it short and I thank you for your attention.
David van Delft,
chief prosecutor BES