Coast Guard and judicial assistance central at four way justice talks

POSTED: 06/19/12 11:57 AM

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan anticipates that today’s four party meeting between the Ministers of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands will be emotional and rough at certain moments. He made the announcement on Monday from Aruba as he was preparing for the talks.
One of the areas set to generate debate is the Coast Guard. Duncan says everyone is unhappy and has called for more attention on how the Coast Guard is managed. He also intends to inform today’s meeting that he will only commit to paying the salaries of the Coast Guard officers stationed here in 2013, instead of paying the full contribution.
Duncan will reiterate his two main concerns about the Coast Guard during the meeting. The first concern is that the country is not getting an adequate level of service for what it pays in annual contribution.
“I question the value for money. I need boats patrolling my waters. If I pay and I don’t get service, then I don’t need to pay anymore. They need to patrol,” Duncan said.
This includes the lack of patrols in the country’s waters and in the air. The second concern is the lack of employment opportunities. Young people can enter the Coast Guard before they hit 25 and after two five year contracts there is little to no growth possibilities. People who join the Coast Guard also cannot move to other judicial branches. The other branches often complain that people leaving the Coast Guard have too little training and were paid too high salaries.
“The Coast Guard has no possibilities. What good is it to my local people? I need to hire young people and the Coast Guard can’t hire better than me. They’ve even misused the screening,” Duncan said.
Both core issues lead to Duncan’s biggest issue with the Coast Guard – the management. He’s also not happy that the Netherlands is “treating the Coast Guard as if it belongs to them.” He also accused the Dutch government of “manufacturing stuff about drug dealing” in order to justify their presence.
Duncan also says he’s not alone in his dismay.
“No one is happy. Even Curacao where the Coast Guard is stationed is complaining,” the minister said.

Prisoner swapping
Duncan is somewhat ready to accept a proposal tabled by Aruba’s Attorney General where it comes to swapping prisoners, but he remains skeptical if Curacao will be willing to live up to the arrangement. The proposal on table is that if someone who originates from one part of the Kingdom commits a crime in another part, they will serve part of their sentence in the country where they did the crime and then be sent home to finish the sentence and as part of the re-socialization.

Judicial Assistance
Duncan plans to matter the outcome of the bilateral discussion between Curacao’s Justice Minister Elmer Wilsoe and Dutch Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten about a letter Wilsoe sent to American judicial authorities requesting they lift a freeze on Robbie Dos Santos’ bank accounts in the United States. The letter has caused upset and Opstelten has been mandated to express the Dutch government’s displeasure at the way Wilsoe addressed himself to U.S. officials because it created confusion over who was the speaking partner.
Duncan is also interested because it has somewhat to do with a mandate for making such contacts. There is a letter of the 1990s mandating then Chief Public Prosecutor of the Netherlands Dick Piar to handle such matters. That letter, which was signed by then Minister of Justice Suzy Camelia-Romer, is now being reviewed and Duncan wants the new mandate to establish very clear lines of reporting on how that mandate is used.

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