Duncan: “We will put our St. Maarten flavor in those laws.”POSTED: 12/9/10 11:54 PM
St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan announced Wednesday that revamps to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure will be given a St. Maarten flavor. He’s committed to doing so despite pressure from the Dutch Government to approve the legislation as it was proposed to the new defunct Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles.
Duncan is expected to spell out his position on the law during the four party conference of Justice Ministers of the Kingdom, which will be held in the Hague. It follows a prior verbal notification.
“We have refused to just accept them and I have informed that we will follow the total, complete St. Maarten procedure. At this time the Directorate of Legal Affairs and Legislation looking at those two particular pieces of legislation, they will then come to the Council of Ministers where we will debate them and then it will be submitted to the Council of Advice. I’ve also initiated a consultation round with the Bar Association and the Court, be cause I feel these laws are too important to just take them over from the Netherlands Antilles,” Duncan said.
The Minister said his current efforts, which include consultation with Professor Jan de Boer, may not lead to any major changes but he still wants to vet the laws because he’s gotten “hints” from the Constitutional Court that some of the provisions may be unconstitutional. They include special powers given to the police during investigations. One of those powers is to ability to place taps on telephones.
“This kind of modern technology could infringe on human rights, especially the right to privacy, which we need to watch carefully,” Duncan said.
Also to be raised at the consultation is the functioning of the Marechaussees on St. Maarten. They currently assist the police with border control and with detective and the agreement governing their role here expires at the end of the year. Duncan has said he’d like them to stay to assist in the full operationalisation of the Department for Immigration and Naturalistion. The specifics of this and other proposals will be ironed out in the Netherlands, but there is an issue that will play in the discussions on continued deployment.
“Part of the problem is money. You know about the budgets there were being cut. The Justice budget is being cut dramatically. Everyone is concerned about the raising of taxes, but you also have to be concerned about the cutting of services because yes we don’t want to pay extra taxes but the level of services, including that far fetched service like border control, will suffer. I don’t intend to go to Holland to beg for money, but we will have to negotiate how the assistance is going to be and what St. Maarten’s share needs to be,” Duncan said.
Duncan also expects Immigration to be a much discussed point while he is in the Netherlands. The four Justice Ministers will discuss it and Duncan also wants to talk about it with Immigration and Integration Minister Geert Leers. Of particular interest is a clause in the Kingdom Law on the Movement of People that allows the Dutch government to repatriate problem youth from the islands if they get involved in crime or they do not find work or a school.
Duncan does not believe that the label problem youth can be applied to young people from St. Maarten and that the Dutch government should treat them as what they are, Dutch citizens.
“I would not send a European Dutch citizen who breaks the law back to Holland. I will deal with them as the law requires. I am certain that this will come up, but at this time we have no position on it to say yes, no or we’re indifferent,” Duncan said.
The set agenda points that Duncan revealed are the makeup of the Common Court of Justice, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Council for Judicial Review, the Police, the Federal Detectives, Immigration and human smuggling. The trip to the Netherlands will also include a meeting with Minister of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner and several judicial institutions.
Duncan departed for Willemstad Curacao Wednesday, on his way to the Netherlands. While in Willemstad he will meet with his colleague Minister of Justice and Curacao’s Minister of Finance. He’s also aiming to meet the Attorney General Dick Piar and make courtesy visits as his schedule allows.