Long serving justice staffers honored – Justice Ministry focuses on successes during special commemorationPOSTED: 07/18/12 12:58 PM
St. Maarten – Countries throughout the world celebrated International Justice Day, yesterday, and in St. Maarten it was no different. While many parts of the world saw protests for more attention to be placed on war, genocide and combating human trafficking, local celebrations centered on the efforts made thus far by the Ministry of Justice – an almost two year old public organization – and its efforts to partner with international agencies such as the International Police Organization (Interpol).
Justice Minister Roland Duncan told a special commemoration ceremony that his ministry will continue to improve capability and capacity to administer justice and uphold law and order in the country. He highlighted the successful integration of young police recruits (Bavpolers) into various branches in the justice chain, the community policing program, cooperation with the Miami Dade School of Justice and membership in Interpol as positive steps towards St. Maarten asserting its position internationally. The latter may result in St. Maarteners being sent to work at Interpol locations globally to gain experience and exposure and to contribute to the decision-making process. Plans are also in train to have a justice academy established.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams Maarten extended the cabinet’s appreciation and congratulations to the justice minister and his ministry for organizing the activities.
“Today is a day in which we can reflect in the steps and strives made in our own justice system. We have a lot to be proud of on St. Maarten and the justice area is no exception. The justice ministry is one of the ministries which we have had to build from scratch. St. Maarten was finding its way in making sure that when 10-10-10 came around the safety and security of our citizens would be assured. And today as prime minister of country St. Maarten I can safely say that we have come a long way and, without any doubt, this has been possible through the collaboration and hard work of those involved in the chain of justice on St. Maarten. These civil servants have worked so hard in making the level of justice which is available to the people of St. Maarten equal to that of the world beyond us. It has taken a lot of so many of them but they can now be proud of truly building, and continuing to build the ministry of justice and ensure our people of a fair and equal justice system,” the prime minister commented.
Several justice officials from the French side of the island and Anguilla were also present to commemorate International Justice Day with St. Maarten. Their presence was something the prime minister highlighted.
“This is important to recognize because we are affected by so many things which happen around us. Through the collaborative efforts with our colleagues to the north and within our region we have a voice to express our sentiments when it comes to matters of justice. In celebrating this day St. Maarten recognizes the importance of looking around us and recognizing that justice does not only affect us but also the communities of our neighbors in the region. We have assumed the responsibility towards the international world and to step up a notch to mold the values which are recognized internationally and today is one of the events in which we show appreciation for the administration of Justice both nationally and internationally,” the Prime Minister concluded.
While President of the Collectivite, Alain Richardson made a stirring call for cooperation to be deepened between both sides of the island (see related story on page 5), Anguilla’s Chief Minister Hubert Hughes noted that St. Maarten is a stable society with a high standard of living that is the envy of the Caribbean. He added that he was impressed at St. Maarten’s efforts towards country status while Anguilla still struggled to be rid of the grip of colonization.
“Justice means fair play,” he charged while cautioning St. Maarten to make sure that it does not tarnish its image on the international stage.
This is the second year that International Justice Day is being celebrated worldwide following the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala, Uganda in June 2010. Policy Advisor within the minister’s cabinet Ludmila York-Duncan who along with a committee organized a week long commemoration of International Justice Day, said that the many achievements of justice officials should not go unnoticed.
“The officers and case workers who represent each institution go to work every day and face challenges that though extremely trying, underappreciated and ignored at times, they better the lives of each and every citizen of this country.”
Long serving members of the justice chain also received awards for their contributions towards the development of St. Maarten. In various branches of government, some of them such as Silvia Gibbs and Richard Ricardo had been on the job for 40 years and more. Those who had taken the Basic Methodology Judicial Youth Correction training course from the Pointe Blanche House of Detention and the Court of Guardianship were also given certificates of appreciation.
The Clem Labega Square was transformed for police demonstrations and a mini information fair where the public could obtain information on immigration policies, recruitment and the operations of institutions such as the prison. A march and inspection of members of the uniformed services by Justice Minister Roland Duncan was also held in front of the Government Administration Building.
The Ministry of Justice is currently responsible for the Police, Coast Guard, Immigration and Naturalization Services, Prison, Voluntary Korps of St.Maarten, Public Prosecutors Office, Court of Guardianship, Customs, Bureau of Unusual Financial Transactions and the Department of Judicial Affairs among other agencies. It is the largest civil servant entity on the island.