Editorial: The art of doing nothing

POSTED: 01/12/12 3:48 PM

The Ipol-report about organized crime in St. Maarten paints a dismal picture of the crime situation on our island. In itself, it is nothing new; after all, the Scientific Research and Documentation Center WODC of the Dutch Justice Ministry published a similar report in 2007.

At the time local politician never tired of saying that it was all hearsay and besides, it was all the fault of the Netherlands Antilles anyway. No wonder the WODC-report found a peaceful resting place in some long forgotten drawer.

Will it be different this time? When we read the chapter about money-laundering we got this strong feeling that we’d read it all before. The bottom line is that law enforcement agencies were and are ill-equipped to start criminal financial investigations, that criminals are aware of this and that in the past four years nobody has done anything meaningful to turn the tide.

This time, country St. Maarten has its own cross to carry. We started writing from the chapter about money-laundering for a reason: that’s where the money is. The authors say correctly that investments in financial investigative capacity will yield money the state can use to make further investments.

The government has some explaining to do in the meantime, for instance about why it is dragging its feet with the Gaming Control Board. The logical answer seems to be that politicians prefer to take their citizens for a ride over stepping on the toes of their campaign sponsors, but we won’t present this to our readers as a fact until we have proof to back it up.

The government now has a solid tool at its disposal to set its priorities. We’re curious to see if this report will trigger appropriate action or that it will lead to further refinement of the art of doing nothing.

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