Wilsoe hands Duncan bill for housing prisoners

POSTED: 06/20/11 1:13 PM

Justice Ministers of the Kingdom meet today

St. Maarten– Curacao’s Justice Minister Elmer “Kade” Wilsoe has handed St. Maarten’s Justice Minister Roland Duncan an invoice for housing convicts from St. Maarten in the Bon Futuro prison. The handover was done on the sidelines of the Tri-Partite meeting of the Ministers of Justice of St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao.

There are approximately 12 prisoners from St. Maarten in the Bon Futuro prison and Wilsoe wants the Government of St. Maarten to pay 200 guilders per day for each for the period from January 1, 2011 to May 31, 2011. A rough calculation puts the outstanding amount at 30, 200 guilders per prisoner and a total of 362, 400 guilders in total. By the end of June the bill will climb to 36, 200 guilders per prisoner and 434, 400 guilders in total.

On Saturday evening Duncan said he would find a way to pay the bill even though the expense has not been budgeted. He also plans to inform Wilsoe by letter that he wants to subtract the costs of housing six convicts from Curacao at the Point Blanche prison from the payment that will be made. St. Maarten spends roughly 300 guilders per prisoner. That would make Curacao’s bill 271, 800 guilders up until the end of May. By the end of June that figure will climb to 325, 800 guilders.

The detention of prisoners was one of the subjects at Saturday’s Tri-Partite talks and will come up again today when Dutch Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten joins the discussion. This point is important to St. Maarten in the short term as it seeks to find space for prisoners during the planned renovations of the Pointe Blanche. The government has considered sending the prisoners to the Netherlands, but that would cost 233 euro (595.31) per day per prisoner.

Next to the bill Wilsoe has pressed Duncan to have the prisoners from St. Maarten removed from Bon Futuro because he wants to begin with repairs. Duncan has told him the island has no space for them right now and has asked for more time.

“The reason that we exchange prisoners is not always because of capacity, but because of behavior, protection of the order, safety etc. and so we need to consider that. Also the cost of it. According to the agreement if I have a prisoner from somewhere else in my prison I have a right to be paid the cost, so we need to agree on a current account situation and Monday we will talk further with the Netherlands about this,” Duncan said.

Uniformity

All 14 points discussed on Saturday will be back on the agenda Monday to see how cooperation with the Dutch in those areas can be established. Some of the specific items include the Coast Guard, the new criminal code, uniform laws, the RST, police education, the 2010 report of Attorney General and the Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015, the Common Court of Justice, the Council on Law Enforcement and the Supervisory Council for the Court. Other items on the agenda are cooperation and the joint use of weapons.

The uniformity of laws was established during the lifetime of the Netherlands Antilles to guide the procedure of formulation of laws. The demise of the Antilles has created a discussion on how parties will do this. A sub-point during the discussion Saturday was how uniform the Law on Special Investigative Powers (BOB) will be. Both St. Maarten and Curacao are concerned about whether the law transgresses the right to privacy that citizens have.

“It won’t just be tapping of phones. The police will also be able to track you on the internet and other forms of sophisticated electronic surveillance. So the first thing that comes to mind is that this has to be done, yes for the purposes of combating crime, but not frivolously to infringe on the privacy of any citizen. So we are grappling with how to formulate the legal situations to have it as much as possible,” Duncan said.

In order to find a way forward Curacao’s Justice Minister Elmer “Kade” Wilsoe has put together a committee to deal with the supervision of the surveillance. Duncan has agreed to work along with him and both men have agreed to meet in the coming week to work this out further.

Coast Guard

Duncan also clarified his position on the Coast Guard on Saturday. He’s been quoted as saying he wants to end the relationship with the Coast Guard, but he said that’s not quite what he meant.

“Ending the relationship is not that simple. It is a Kingdom Law, and it’s now starting. However what I am trying to end is the way the Coast Guard is managed. My position is that I’m a partner in the Coast Guard. It doesn’t matter at what percentage. The Coast Guard needs to assess/analyze what its job is on St. Maarten because I have a major problem with it being operated as a branch of Curacao,” the minister explained.

Duncan believes the way forward is for a scaled up presence of the Coast Guard here to deal especially with human smuggling and illegal immigrants– something he asserts is a bigger problem here than in Curacao and Aruba combined.

“My demand is and Curacao agrees with me is that I want St. Maarten’s situation to be analyzed, the needs of St. Maarten to be analyzed and that we determine what is the role of the Coast Guard on St. Maarten, regardless of what it’s doing in Aruba, Curacao and other parts of the Caribbean. I’m not going to pay for something I’m not getting and I have not even budgeted for what they requested,” Duncan said.

Police Training

Saturday’s meeting also looked at the matter of police training. As a subtheme parties discussed the Training Institute for Security and Law and Order. A recent report says the facility is not fit for people to live in and is in dire need of repairs. Duncan does not quite it that way.

“I don’t know if that report is that dramatic. I visited the facilities, not thoroughly or totally in March,” Duncan said.

On the matter of training the ministers have agreed that Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten will offer the basic courses to people interested in any of the uniform services in country and then more advanced courses will be available elsewhere. As an example St. Maarten will begin a basic course in English on June 27 and then in September coordinators from each country will work out how the joint trainings will be done. That includes working out modules for the courses.

 

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