Advisors penal and civil code return to St. Maarten in two weeks

POSTED: 08/8/11 12:34 PM

Legislation to be passed before October 10

St. Maarten – Prof. Mr. Hans de Doelder and Prof Mr. Jan de Boer will return to St. Maarten in the last week of August to help completing the process that must lead to the introduction of an amended civil code and a new penal code.
The Parliament has to deal with 67 pieces of legislation that were not ready in time to pass for approval through the last Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles. Of the 67 laws, around twenty are critical, President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell said yesterday on For the record, a broadcast by Soualiga Radio. These twenty laws will have to be passed before October 10 of this year. Justice Minister Roland Duncan will address Parliament about the legislation, Arrindell said.
She dismissed concerns about procedural issues surrounding the way legislation had been submitted to parliament. “They have to be resubmitted the right way but that does not stand in the way of a discussion in Parliament,” she said.
Duncan will appear in Parliament on Friday to address the local detention capacity, the functioning of the Coast Guard and the free movement of people in the Kingdom.
Duncan indicated last month that among the issues Parliament has to address with regard to the new civil code and the penal code are abortion and euthanasia. The minister has said that he tends to favor legalizing abortion.
The new penal code was the subject of a presentation by prof. mr. Hans de Doelder back in January. The draft code contains articles that make it more difficult for judges to try juveniles under adult law, and it also abolishes minimum sentences.
De Doelder considers the articles about juvenile delinquents the most important change in the law. Once the new legislation goes into effect, judges will only be able to try 16 and 17-year-olds under adult law once three conditions are met: the offense must be a severe crime, the defendant must have an adult personality and there must be aggravating circumstances.
The legislation also aims to prevent that the names of juveniles end up in police reports and it gives judges the option to place young convicts in institutions – though those institutions still have to be created.
De Doelder is also a supporter of abolishing minimum sentences. With this, St. Maarten’s penal code will go against the trend in the Netherlands, where the call for minimum sentences has become stronger the past years. The argument is that crime is on the rise and that penalties are too soft.”Both statements are untrue,” De Doelder wrote last year in an opinion piece in the Trouw newspaper.
The new civil code for St. Maarten has been a work in progress for the past fifteen years. The draft that is now on the table foresees, among many other things, in the right of children to establish the paternity of their biological father. Children also get the right to child support, once paternity has been established, and the right to establish legal ties with their biological father. During a presentation in March, prof. mr. Jan de Boer, who has reviewed the civil code, said that in Curacao an astonishing 25 percent of all children don’t know who their biological father is.
The code also provides protection for tenants of private and commercial buildings with a value of up to 200,000 guilders. Under this law, new tenants obtain the right to go to the rent committee for an assessment of the rent they are paying.

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