St. Maarten “Justice is undermanned and has many challenges”

POSTED: 01/29/16 5:20 PM

St. Maarten News – Finance Minister Richard Gibson Sr. took some time to draw a picture of the challenges that lie ahead for Edson Kirindongo who took up his post at the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday. “I am having a bigger smile on my face than usual,” Gibson quipped to illustrate his relief that he has now been excused from tending to two ministries. Since the new government took office on November 19 of last year, Finance Minister Gibson was also acting minister of justice.

“The Ministry of Justice has a lot of challenges and it is undermanned,” Gibson said. “There is only that much money in the till and we have to live by the means that we have, that means careful spending.”

The minister referred to challenges not only at the understaffed police force, but also at the Pointe Blanche prison, though he made clear that it is not only a matter of numbers. “Everything is about training people,” he said.

“I have spoken with the attorney-general and with the justice department in the Netherlands and made clear that steps have to be taken to provide the police force with tools they need to do their job. This requires a quantum leap. We have five lost years behind us and the foundations must be set for the next five years to bring the police force up to par.”

Gibson made clear that the steps he referred to have to do with quality. “This is especially true for the top – for the management, not only at the police force, but also at the prison.”

The minister said that he has sensed “a strong willingness” in the Netherlands to assist. “Ideas have been floated to put ten police officers within the Detective Collaboration Team RST and to add ten police officers from the Netherlands to the police force. The idea is to rotate the local police officers from the RST back into the police force, then to add another ten officers to the RST. This way we will get a complete rotation within a couple of years.”

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