Dutch newspapers pick up on conflict with chief Bouman

POSTED: 08/21/15 12:42 PM



GREAT BAY – Sint Maarten made headlines in Dutch media yesterday and the news was not all good. “Fifty police officer to Sint Maarten” the headline in the Volkskrant read. Algemeen Dagblad; Police considers politicians St. Maarten too corrupt.” Whether Dutch and local law enforcement units will work together – on that point the two newspapers contradict each other.

Algemeen Dagblad reports about the clash between Justice Minister Dennis Richardson and Gerard Bouman, the chief of the national police in the Netherlands. “The Dutch police do not want to work together with local politicians in St. Maarten, because there are too many indications of corruption,” the newspaper wrote, adding that it has a copy of the minutes of the meeting between Bouman and Richardson in its possession.

“Bouman indicates that he does not need anybody and that he will successfully complete his task,” the paper quotes from the minutes.

The national police in the Netherlands did not want to react to the report about the meeting. A spokesman confirmed that a special team will be established to tackle undermining and organized crime in St. Maarten. According to the national police this is necessary, because the maintenance of law and order is seriously inadequate. “In general I can say that where possible we will always work together,” the spokesman said.

The question remains what is still possible, the Algemeen Dagblad observed: “According to Minister Richardson, Bouman does not want to work together at all anymore.” That goes both ways: Richardson does not want to work with Bouman either.

“Bouman came across as very arrogant and condescending. It was improper,” the newspaper quotes Rueben Thompson, the director of Minister Richardson’s cabinet who was present at the meeting.

The Volkskrant reported yesterday that the Netherlands will send fifty police officers to the island in the beginning of next year and that recruitment for these positions will begin in September. The project will cost €22 million.

However, the Volkskrant reports that the Dutch Minister of Justice, Ard van der Steur, “in consultation with his colleagues in Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten” has decided that the Netherlands will get involved in the maintenance of law and order on the islands.

“The Netherlands wants to make a serious effort in St. Maarten “because the problems are the most serious there with the entwining of the upper and the underworld,” the article states.

The Dutch police will establish a team that will investigate undermining and cross border organized crime. “They are able to do several investigations simultaneously and they work together with local police officers,” according to the Volkskrant. “The Dutch police officers work under the direction of the local attorney-general.”

The paper furthermore reports that St. Maarten is too small for a solid system of law enforcement and that, according to the Netherlands “it is battling with integrity issues, capacity shortages and inefficiency.”

The Dutch government feels, “that the under and the upper world threatened to become entwined to such an extent that it will overwhelm St. Maarten without intervention.”

“On the island, the feeling of unsafety is increasing due to the rise in criminality,” the Volkskrant states in its article.

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