“We need to balance the right to privacy with the need to fight crime”

POSTED: 11/17/11 4:06 AM

St. Maarten – Within the next couple of months, St. Maarten will get its own solicitor-general, Justice Minister Roland Duncan told the Central Committee yesterday afternoon. The ministry has recruited a candidate, but Duncan declined to reveal his name.
Chief Prosecutor mr. Hans Mos briefly addressed the Committee with an explanation about the way his office works. “We experience on a daily basis the skepticism about the way we work. There is still a stain on my office from the past, and that hurts. But we know how to use the law on special investigation powers, and we also know the price we’ll pay when things go wrong.”
mr. Mos stressed that the prosecutor’s office is “the defender of the victims of crime. In terms of human rights we stand up for the victims and we work hard to prevent that further crimes take place. I understand the concerns that have been expressed about our office’s past.”
mr. Mos said that, given the police force’s current size the BOB-legislation won’t have a huge impact on average citizens. “Using these methods requires a lot of resources,” he said.
Minister Duncan acknowledged that the powers described in the BOBN-legislation are far reaching. “We need to balance the right to privacy with the need to fight crime,” he said. “Criminals are already using some of these methods. They put us under surveillance before we put them under surveillance. The difference is that we come to you to ask your permission, and to tell you that transparency sometimes has to come after the fact.”
Duncan said that installing technical equipment at telecom providers for monitoring purposes requires a $500,000 initial investment and an identical amount on annual basis.
The Minister put the privacy-concerns several Committee members expressed during the first round on Tuesday in perspective. “Look at the percentage of politicians versus the percentage of arrests for burglary,” he said. “All the same, it is good to keep politicians in check. All of us; and you may even look at me. We need to find a balance and look at what affects society the most.”
The Minister said that he is working on the establishment of a broad-based committee that will be charged with looking at money laundering and fighting terrorism. The Central Bank will get enhanced powers for scrutinizing companies on money laundering as well.
The BOB-legislation, Duncan said, is something we are expected to pass. “We could be conceited and say that we will not do it. Then we will be ostracized as a non-compliant country, and investors will be told not to come here. If we want to play with the big boys, we’ll have to do this. If we reject the legislation, Curacao and Aruba won’t be able to go forward with it either.”
Committee members reacted less virulent to the minister’s explanations in comparison with some of their remarks in the first round on Tuesday. “It gives the Public Prosecutor’s Office the leeway it needs,” Leroy de Weever remarked, while UP faction leader Romain Laville said, “Let’s vote to pass it.”
Only NA-MP George Pantophlet was not convinced of the legislation’s necessity. He quoted an unidentified “Russian billionaire” who said, according to Pantophlet, to the question whether he feared corruption: “I don’t fear corruption. All I want for my investments is to have a stable government.”

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Comments (1)


  1. Cassilda van der Neut says:

    In a world where the criminals are better equipped with equipments to commit crimes, our representatives and the community at large should understand that the law enforcement needs to be empowered with better means of fighting crime to flush out all forms of crime from this community so as to make it a better place.

    Just imagine a police officer who have taken the oath to protect the community is a suspect of being involved in aiding criminals. it is time and long overdue to take back our once peaceful island from the hands of criminals or under the rug corruption. So Mr. Justice Minister please empower workers in your department so we can continue to enjoy peace and tranquility on the one Friendly Island again.

    The idea of broad day killing is an indication that criminals have no respect for the law, no the safety of the community, so continue to plug all the loop holes that criminals are using to commit crime. If the tapping law was in place earlier former prosecutor Merx would have been more careful and not override his authority to spy or listen on the conversastion of his former girl friend. We call that abuse of power and no one is above the law. ( not to be published an opportunity to express my feelings, because all law abiding citizens should have nothing to fear with putting those laws in place )