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SXM Festival Opens to a Thousand Festival Lovers

HAPPY BAY, St. Martin - The SXM Festival opened their week long activities on Wednesday with the opening of their main event at Happy Bay and their first night event at Refuge.

On Thursday, their extended line up was able to cater to the over two thousand travelers that have already arrived at our destination with many more expected to arrive on Friday and Saturday.

Happy Bay Beach is one of Saint Martin’s best kept secrets – a stunning, secluded stretch of azure water, golden sands and lush jungle that can normally only be accessed by foot or boat.

As SXM Festival’s main day party venue, this hidden gem was transformed into an enchanted party paradise that goes from 12 noon to 12 mid night featuring many top DJs such as Black Coffee, Chaim, John Charnis, Blond;ish, Revah Brothers and more. After, the party continues at many of the top venues on St. Maarten including as Refuge, 3 Amigos, Sky Beach, Tantra, Dirty Sanchez and various other venues on the Dutch side.

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UN announces new interagency coordination group to tackle antimicrobial resistance

SINT MAARTEN/INTERNATIONAL, 16 March 2017 – The United Nations today announced the establishment of an Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, which will be co-chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and World Health Organization WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.

“As we enter the era of sustainable development, I would like to emphasize that Antimicrobial resistance really does pose a formidable threat to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in our developing countries,” Ms. Mohammed told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs – antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.”

As a result, says WHO, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.

Ms. Mohammed said the creation of the UN joint agency group to combat AMR and advise on the global effort, is a sign of how seriously UN Member States were taking the threat.

Last September, Member States adopted the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance that contained a request for the UN Secretary-General to establish such a body.

She said AMR is a “multi-sectoral problem” affecting human and animal health, agriculture, as well as the global environment and trade. Clean water, sustainable food production and poverty alleviation are but a few of the challenges it poses.

“Many UN agencies will need to engage in this fight, as will other international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and critically, the general public,” she explained, welcoming the Secretary-General’s establishment of the group, which would seek to provide practical guidance on the ways to combat AMR and to recommend how global efforts could and should be better coordinated.

WHO chief Chan said antibiotic resistance is already prolonging illness worldwide, and the political declaration was a vital commitment to help tackle the scourge globally.

She said the inter-agency group would support governments across the world, as well as advising on the “use and abuse” of antibiotics for people, and livestock.

Ms. Chan promised that the group, appointed by the Secretary-General, would “get to work right away.”

The group will be comprised of high-level representatives from relevant UN agencies, other international organizations, and individual experts across different sectors, including animal health, agriculture, and environment.

It will produce a report to the Secretary-General for the UN General Assembly session starting in September 2018.

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Sixth employee of immigration service arrested on Wednesday in Ostrich human trafficking investigation

PHILIPSBURG - On Wednesday morning March 15, 2017 the suspect B.M.B. (44) born in Aruba had been detained in the Ostrich-investigation, according to a joint press release from the Public Prosecution Service and the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM).

“She is suspected of bribery and human smuggling and is the sixth employee of the immigration service to be arrested in this investigation. It concerns an investigation carried out by the Unit Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling of the St. Maarten Police Force, KPSM into illegal admittance of amongst others Jamaicans, Haitians and Guyanese.

“Last week a fifth suspect of the immigration service was detained. Also a lawyer was arrested in connection with the Ostrich-investigation. The investigation continues,” the joint press release concludes.

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Finance Ministers of Sint Maarten and Curacao meet to discuss financial matters

POND ISLAND - On Monday 13th March, 2017 the Minister of Finance from Sint Maarten, the Honorable Richard Gibson Sr. met with the Minister of Finance from Curacao, the Honorable Kenneth Gijsbertha to discuss vital financial matters that affect both Sint Maarten and Curacao.

Some topics addressed during this meeting were: the management of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS), the de-risking trends within our financial institutions, the division of assets of the former Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten and Curacao’s possible participation with the pilot project organized by the United States and the upcoming International Monetary Fund Meeting in Washington, to take place in April of this year.

The meeting further centered around the plan of approach to finalize and address other pending financial matters and to ascertain a continued working relationship between both Governments.

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Peace efforts and sustainable development top agenda at UN agency’s narcotics conference

INTERNATIONAL, 13 March 2017 – The top United Nations panel dealing with all aspects of narcotic drugs opened its 60th session today with a focus on peace and security, as well as on helping Governments reach their sustainable development commitments.

The international meeting in Vienna is the first since the UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem in April 2016, where a new framework was adopted which puts people at the centre of global policies on drug control.

In a video message for the session, Secretary-General António Guterres called that framework “rich and forward-looking” and urged Governments to “build on the momentum with joint action to honour commitments.”

Mr. Guterres welcomed the current session’s “intensive, inclusive and comprehensive follow-up” to the April agreement and urged discussions to draw from the fields of law enforcement, prevention, health care, human rights and development.

This session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs brings together around 1,500 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society for a global discussion on the world drug problem, according to a press release.

In his address, Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), outlined how the UN agency is working with Governments and other partners to combat illicit drugs.

“We are also helping to achieve the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] and promote peace and security through alternative development in the countries most affected by illicit crop cultivation,” Mr. Fedotov said.

He added that “alternative development is aimed at, not only reducing the cultivation of coca, opium poppy and cannabis, but also improving the socio-economic conditions of marginalized farming communities.”

The senior UN official noted that this year’s World Drug Report – likely out this June – will focus on the nexus between the drug problem and transnational organized crime, corruption, illicit financial and arms flows and terrorism, which are of increasing concern to the Security Council and the entire international community.

Among the UN agency’s projects, Mr. Fedotov pointed to work which is helping to build capacities to ensure that drug lords are brought to justice and support for alternatives to conviction or punishment for minor offences.

Also participating at today’s opening was Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). UNODC and WHO had recently signed a new agreement to promote health and science-based and rights-based approach to drug challenges, such as making sure that people treat drug use disorders as an alternative to criminal justice sanctions.

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Following visit to Haiti, UN expert urges more aid for Hurricane Matthew victims

CARIBBEAN, 13 March 2017 – An independent United Nations expert on human rights is calling for redoubling of efforts to help Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Following his sixth official mission to Haiti to monitor human rights, Gustavo Gallón, reiterated his solidarity to the victims of the October 2016 cyclone.

“Their situation is similar to the situation of internally displaced people living in camps since the 2010 earthquake, of people deported from the Dominican Republic settled along the border, or of detainees in the country's prisons,” said Mr. Gallón.

His comments came after visit to the High School Nord Alexis in Jérémie, in the Grand'Anse department, where some 525 families affected by Matthew are sheltering.

In addition to shelter and immediate needs, the Hurricane will also impact people's ability to vote in the presidential election that was postponed from last October to 20 November of this year.

“I hope that these elections will be held without any surprises and that there will be a new President elected in February next year as well as stable State institutions,” said Mr. Gallón.

He noted that the Government has a duty to hold the elections under difficult circumstances but expressed optimism that the new Provisional Electoral Council and the more relaxed political environment compared to last year will allow the electoral process to be concluded.

Among other needs noted during his visit, Mr. Gallón called for more to be done to tackle illiteracy among the general population within five years, and to improve prison conditions in order to guarantee detainees' rights.

He also reiterated his past recommendations to create a commission of truth, justice and reparation of violations of the past, and a similar commission to compensate victims of cholera.

“We must bring justice to victims of past violations and to people who have suffered the consequences of cholera to achieve a more equal society, based on justice,” said Mr. Gallón.

In addition, the independent expert voiced outrage over verbal and physical attacks against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex community.

“These attacks are contrary to the rights to equality and non-discrimination which are recognized in international treaties to which Haiti is a party. I urge both the authorities and society to respect them.” Mr. Gallón said.

He is due to present his report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council this month.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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Temporary Crew Admittance Policy Welcomed by the SMMTA and the SHTA

PHILIPSBURG - The SMMTA (Sint Maarten Marine Trades Association) and the SHTA (Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association) are thankful to Minister of Justice Rafael Boasman and members of his ministry for working in a swift and transparent manner with relevant stakeholders and government departments to ensure that the immigration issues for crew members of commercial and private vessels are being resolved to reduce and hopefully eliminate any further hindrance to the industry. 

Members of the SMMTA and the SHTA met with Minister Boasman and the appropriate members of the Justice Ministry on several occasions last week to discuss the concerns and procedural issues raised by changes and proposed changes to the admittance policy for crew members.

As a result, a temporary policy was issued on Friday March 2, 2017 to replace the policy issued February 24, 2017. Administrative procedures are still being streamlined to facilitate compliance.

The SMMTA and SHTA further stated that “while the timing of the matter was very unfortunate, we are encouraged thus far by the swift and amicable resolution of the problem with all parties coming together.

The Minister has committed to a thorough review of the admittance policy for the maritime sector during the off season in consultation with all stakeholders. The goal is a well thought out policy, grounded in the law that can be published in ample time for the 2017-2018 yachting season.

The Justice Ministry has the monumental task of protecting our borders and both associations commend Minister Boasman for seeking to find common ground and a practical solution while carrying out his responsibility.”

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BKCN promotes James Hassell to Shift Leader of Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade

SABA - On Tuesday March 7th veteran fireman James Hassell of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade was promoted to Shift Leader. This took place in a brief ceremony where Local Commander of the Fire Brigade section Saba, Julio Every, presented Hassell with his Decree and his stripes.

“At BKCN we invest a great deal in the training and education of our personnel. I am both glad and proud to finally be able to call James Shift Leader Hassell”, BKCN General Commander, Jair Tromp. Shift Leader is considered the most important position within a Fire Department, both during an incident and during activities on a shift. The Shift Leader determines how a shift is run.

James Hassell first began working with the Saba Fire Department in the late 1980’s. During the transition of the Fire Department to a Central Government operated department on 10-10-10 Hassell had already been working 12 years as a Fireman. He is presently working a total of 7 years for the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department (BKCN) bringing the total to 27 service years.

“I began working for the Fire Department between 1989/1990 and the experiences I have gained while working were beyond my expectations. I thoroughly enjoy working at the Department. I have a good working relationship with all of my colleagues and look forward to continued good cooperation in the coming years”, says James Hassell.

Prior being promoted to Shift Leader James Hassell held the position of crew member B (Manschap B). In 2016 he participated in the training Shift Leader. The training, which took part on the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, St. Maarten and partly in Europe, lasted approximately ten months.

Training in The Netherlands and Germany, respectively included visits to training facilities WEEZE and the Dutch Royal Air Force in Woensdrecht. The training comprised both a practical and theoretical aspect.

Before this most recent training for Shift Leader Hassell successfully completed the IFV Instructors course. He is a Dutch Fire Academy certified Instructor and a Rope Rescue Instructor. Furthermore, he has also received Airport Rescue and Firefighting training at Schiphol Fire Department. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

2017 03 07 11.41.25 800x483

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Prime Minister William Marlin reports on his attendance of the 15th OCT-EU Forum

SINT MAARTEN/ARUBA – During his working visit in Aruba, Prime Minister of St. Maarten, the Honourable Mr. William Marlin, and the rest of the St. Maarten delegation attended the 15th OCT-EU Forum.

The core objective of this forum was to bring together the OCT Authorities with their Member State, members from the European Commission, members from the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and when appropriate as in this case, members of the Outermost Regions and other Regional Organizations for dialogue.

During the Forum, the Joint Position on the guiding principles of the post 2020 EU-OCT partnership and Political Declarations of the OCTA Ministerial Conference the previous day, were presented to the European Commission.

A panel was also convened at the political level where the the Honourable Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Mr. William Marlin took part in the discussion on Renewable Energy: A Key Driver for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth along with representatives from eight other global OCTs.

In the side-lines of this forum, the St. Maarten delegation also had the opportunity to convene a bilateral discussion with Director of Development Coordination Latin America and the Caribbean, Mrs. Jolita Butkeviciene and her team.

During this meeting, St. Maarten was given the opportunity to further discuss the programmes under our responsibility such as the 10th and 11th EDF Territorial Programmes, the St. Martin/St. Maarten Territorial Cooperation Programme and the 11th EDF Caribbean Regional Programme.

This meeting also provided an opportunity to solidify and gain assurances with regards to St. Maarten’s partnership with Directorate General for Development Cooperation.

The next OCT-EU Conference is tentatively slated for February 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

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UN global aviation body adopts new carbon emissions standards for aircraft

INTERNATIONAL, 6 March 2017 – The United Nations aviation body today adopted new aircraft emissions to curb the impact of aviation greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate.

The Standard will apply to new aircraft type designs from 2020, and to aircraft type designs already in-production as of 2023, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The President of the ICAO Council, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, called the decision “pioneering.”

“Air transport [is] the first industry sector globally to adopt a CO2 emissions design certification standard,” Mr. Aliu said.

The decision by the 36-member States of the ICAO Council follows a move last October curb carbon emissions from passenger and cargo airplanes as of 2020 through a carbon offset mechanism, which is voluntary until 2027.

The ICAO Secretary General, Fang Liu, said the accomplishment is “historic” and places aviation in “an even better position as we look forward to a greener era of air transport development.”

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