Parliament adjourns meeting about Integrity Chamber

POSTED: 04/16/15 6:27 PM

Minister Richardson: “Passing this law strengthens our position”

St. Maarten– The parliament is dragging its feet, or at least taking its time, with the handling of the draft ordinance for the establishment of the Integrity Chamber. Yesterday’s continuation of Wednesday’s meeting was adjourned until Monday morning at 10 a.m. at the request of coalition members Tamara Leonard, Cornelius de Weever and Johan Leonard.

Justice Minister Dennis Richardson warned the parliament to move forward with the legislation, Next week Sunday Richardson and Prime Minister Gumbs travel to the Netherlands for discussions with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk about the looming instruction.

“It could come to the point that Rutte pushed the instruction, even if we get an advice from the Council of State that is positive for St. Maarten,” Richardson said. “If we do what we have to do, we have a much stronger position.”

The coalition members who asked for the postponement have concerns about certain aspects of the draft legislation and they want more time to consider some changes.

Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party) said that the Integrity Chamber alone will not solve St. Maarten’s problems. “We have to look at the bigger picture and also tackle human smuggling, prostitution and organized crime. Otherwise we are carrying water to the sea.”

Minister Richardson said that the draft law is “more balanced” than what the Kingdom proposes in its instruction. “It offers sufficient protection and it is in the interest of St. Maarten to go ahead with this,” he said.

Richardson scoffed Minister Plasterk because he did not inform the Second Chamber that St. Maarten had not done anything yet “because we were negotiating.”

Richardson said that he has asked the attorney-general to look into the crime situation in St. Maarten. “Compliance with existing rules is also an issue,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Second Chamber passed a motion submitted by Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak. It asks the government to investigate dirty money in St. Maarten and Curacao. The Dutch parliament is upset about (alleged) financial relationships between politicians and organized crime on the islands.

Yesterday, Minister Richardson said that there is no evidence to support this. “If Plasterk is saying this then he is conscientiously lying.”

Nevertheless, Plasterk considers the Van Raak-motion encouragement for the government’s current policy. The investigation will also focus on legal money.

Van Raak, who has never offered any evidence for his allegations, is satisfied that the government will execute his motion. “The beginning is there,” he said on Wednesday. “We have to tackle the dirty money, and the politicians who accept it. Everybody in parliament agrees that something needs to be done.”

Van Raak expects that some politicians will not cooperate with the investigation. “But others will, because they are also looked at because of the behavior of their colleagues.”

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