Philipsburg, Sint Maarten – The Law Enforcement Council (“the Council”) has conducted an inspection on the use of the Sint Maarten Crime Fund. The Council concluded that the recommendations it has made so far, unfortunately have not led to substantial or structural improvements of the Fund. Monies were used for other purposes than for what they were originally intended.
In this regard, it should be noted that the Council inspected, in particular, whether funds from the Crime Fund have been allocated to projects for which the Crime Fund was intended since its inception in 2010. The Council’s conclusion was that even with a broad definition of the concepts ‘project’ and ‘combating crime’, hardly any expenditures were made in line with the purpose as envisioned by the legislator and Parliament when the Crime Fund was instituted.
According to the Council, opportunities for combating crime by means of projects have remained largely unexploited. This while the Crime Fund, the facility that was specially designed to facilitate such development, is used for matters for which it was not intended. Although these expenditures may be considered as related to combating crime, the Fund has, de facto, become an ’emergency provision’ for the Minister of Justice for expenditures for which there are no funds within the regular budget of the Ministry and the various organizations.
Funding of projects
The purpose of the Sint Maarten Crime Fund is to fund projects geared towards combating crime. Its income is derived from, amongst others, paid fines and confiscated criminal money. The Minister of Justice is ultimately responsible for the Crime Fund. Under his supervision, the head of the Judicial Affairs Department manages the day to day management of the Crime Fund. In recent years, both the Law Enforcement Council and other organizations have inspected (topics related to) the Crime Fund and made recommendations for improvements. The latest report published by the Council focuses solely on the funding of projects by the Crime Fund.
The Council emphasizes that the Crime Fund can be very beneficial for the development of law enforcement. Proper supervision, management and (democratic) control of the Crime Fund are prerequisites for this. Based on its findings the Council made six recommendations that will benefit the proper management of the Crime Fund and therewith the facilitation of projects with the focus on combating crime:
- Comply with the legal obligations as stated in the National Ordinance Crime Fund. In any event, give follow-up to the recommendations already made by the Council regarding the Fund. These concern: ‘Include a policy plan to the annual budget listing the various projects that qualify for funding by the Crime Fund’ and ‘Guide the process toward the instalment of the Steering Committee for the fight against crime, and involve the Committee in the management of the Crime Fund’.
- Develop an up to date policy for the Crime Fund. In doing so, take into account the criteria, processes and procedures with regard to the submission-, handling-, granting of project requests and (justification of) decisions in this respect and include the necessary definitions.
- To limit risks of improper use and misuse of funds from the Crime Fund, establish rules and safeguards in a National Ordinance.
- Ensure that the physical and digital administration/registration with regard to the submission, review, granting and payment of projects is complete and ensure that the procedures and documents pertaining to the applicable legislation and policies are complied with and are obtained in a timely manner.
- Ensure that all claims on behalf of the Crime Fund are paid back.
- Give more publicity to the Crime Fund.
The Council’s full report is available on its website www.raadrechtshandhaving.com or http://rrh-sxm.org.