“Justice Ministry frontrunner in the region” “Exemplary” code of conduct

POSTED: 10/4/14 11:10 AM

St. Maarten – “Working as a stripper or pole dancer.” That is on the “not-to-do-list” in the code of conduct for civil servants that work at the Ministry of Justice. It is an example among many, one that may speak more to the imagination than suggestions not to use a department-car to go to the beach, or not to print complete books on a printer in the office.

During a ceremony at the University of St. Martin, PricewaterhouseCoopers Dutch Caribbean presented the code of conduct, the first milestone in an integrity-journey that began six months ago with a presentation at the Claude Wathey Legislative Hall, followed by sessions at the Justice Academy, the prison and the airport. More than 90 civil servants were actively involved in the program that was funded by Usona.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams was at hand for a brief opening address. “This is a timely topic and at an important ministry,” she observed. “It is important to know that this is a first step and that it has not been taken because of the politics of today.”

Wescot-Williams emphasized that, ever since St. Maarten became an autonomous country on 10-10-10, “the government has recognized the need to implement integrity programs.”

The Justice Ministry’s Secretary-General Udo Aron presented the prime minister with the first copy of the code of conduct, a pocket-sized brochure of twenty pages.

“It does not stop here,” said Ruben Goedhoop, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Dutch Caribbean. “This is the first step and I encourage you to fully utilize this momentum to continue to move forward. The ministry of justice is the frontrunner in the region with this code of conduct.”

Goedhoop said that the code is “exemplary” but that it is coincidental that its presentation seems to run almost parallel with the presentation if the integrity report by the New York-based office of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The code of conduct is based on six principles: incorruptible, trustworthy, and aware of perceptions, meticulous, fair and public interest.

Each of these principles is worked out in the bilingual brochure that also includes examples of “what not to do.” These examples go from receiving a remarkable high discount on a watch in a jewelry store because of one’s position and receiving a trip to Miami for doing one’s duty to the more obvious no-no of accepting cash for turning a blind eye and the rather hilarious suggestion not to work as a stripper or a pole dancer. The booklet also contains a guide for how to act upon the discovery of integrity issues within the department.

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