Minister Richardson “confused” about attitude parliamentarians

POSTED: 04/10/15 12:10 PM

St. Maarten – “I am confused,” Justice Minister Dennis Richardson said last night in reaction to the sentiment expressed by Members of Parliament about the draft legislation for the establishment of the Integrity Chamber. “Reference has been made that this draft has been inspired by the Dutch and that it is being pushed down our throats. And then there is the suggestion for an individual approach, to go after those who have caused all these problems.”

Richardson reminded the parliament that the Integrity Chamber is based on an advice from a committee the parliament itself had put in place (the Bob Wit-Committee – ed.) and that the government and the parliament have embraced its recommendations.

“The parliament will have to take a principal decision on this matter,” the minister said. “Are we going to pursue this law and if so, what are the risks if we don’t. In that case the parliament will have to accept the consequences.”

Richardson made clear what would happen if St. Maarten does not pass its own Integrity Chamber legislation. “In that case the kingdom government will impose its Integrity Chamber on St. Maarten. The composition of that chamber will be Dutch, its secretariat will be Dutch as well. The general measure of kingdom governance uses a broader definition of what an integrity-breach is. Their concept will not offer legal protection to those who come under scrutiny. It will be a free for all, a witch hunt on civil servants and politicians.”

Richardson repeated that the draft is not based on a Dutch template and that it offers maximum protection to those who are accused of integrity-breaches. “The Dutch are not happy with this. They want to remove that legal protection,” he said.

Richardson suggested that the parliament could stop the discussion about the draft-law there and then, if it does not intend to approve it. “In that case it is a waste of time to answer your questions,” he said.

That was a step too far for parliament. Several members expressed their support for continued discussion about the draft and about options to make changes to the concept.

The central committee will continue the meeting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

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