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Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Officially Launch Regional Save Our Sharks Project

KRALENDIJK, Bonaire/COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - All six islands of the Dutch Caribbean are poised to benefit from a new funding initiative provided by the Dutch Postcode Lottery aimed at an essential conservation effort—saving and protecting shark species.

The fund will provide €1.6 million to the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) to assist with the effort of shark conservation on all six islands of the Dutch Caribbean; Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire. The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is a non-profit organization created to protect the environment and promote sustainable management of natural resources on the six Dutch Caribbean islands.

The Save our Sharks effort in the Caribbean may be the first to attempt a concerted regional approach in the global endeavor to save sharks and is one of the five major shark conservation projects running globally.

Conservation organizations worldwide are focusing on preserving sharks, which are some of the most endangered species on the planet. Science has described at least 500 species of sharks but many species, which have existed since the time of the Dinosaurs, face increasing human-related threats and, for some species, extinction.

The demand for fins and other shark products has driven a number of species close to extinction. More than 100 million sharks are killed each year as a result of fishing and shark finning activities, twice the rate at which they can reproduce. Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion because they are late to mature and produce few young.

Tadzio Bervoets, Vice-chair of DCNA and Chair of the Save our Sharks Project Committee, commented that all of the Dutch Islands aim to have a level of shark conservation in place at the end of the three year project: “Sharks are some of the most misunderstood species on the planet. For generations we have been led to believe that sharks are the villains of the seas and that they pose a danger to everything that swims in the ocean, including humans.

“But we now know that is very far from the truth; these magnificent creatures are essential to the ocean, and therefore essential to us as islanders because of our intimate connection with the sea. Without sharks we lose that which makes our islands so unique; our marine habitats. That is why we have embarked on this journey with the Dutch Postcode Lottery and our other partners, a journey of protecting these keystone species on all of the six-islands in the Dutch Caribean,” commented Bervoets.

Kalli De Meyer, DCNA’s executive director, also stressed the importance of protecting these critical species; “People need healthy oceans and healthy oceans need sharks, the apex predator of the ocean,” said De Meyer.

In the Dutch Caribbean, sharks face numerous threats from poaching, finning, overfishing and coastal development. With funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery for this special project, DCNA will focus on Science: learning more about shark species; Education: helping more people learn about sharks; and Legislation: protecting sharks throughout the six islands and ensuring that that protection is adequately enforced.

Island conservation organizations that form the Dutch Caribbean conservation alliance will work with fishermen, local communities, and scientists to study local shark populations. The knowledge they gain will be shared with regional decision makers and other island stakeholders in an effort to create shark sanctuaries throughout the Dutch Caribbean seas.

Conservationists also will work to create different ways for islanders to benefit from the presence of sharks in Dutch Caribbean waters, such as making them a part of the dive tourism industry.

“Sharks are threatened worldwide and some are faced with extinction unless we act and act now. With the help of the Dutch National Postcode Lottery and our partners we will create a safe-haven for these majestic yet misunderstood creatures on our islands. Saving them from extinction and, invariably, saving ourselves as islanders,” concluded Bervoets.


NAGICO Insurances pledges to give all Tropical Storm Erika Claims first priority

GREAT BAY - NAGICO Insurances has made a commitment to settle all claims related to Tropical Storm Erika as quickly as possible in an effort to restore financial stability to their clients in Dominica as soon as possible following the devastation left in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika last week.

The insurance company has issued a mandate to all its regional offices, in their 19 territories, to allow all their Dominican clients residing in those islands to submit their claims in Dominica at any of the local Branch offices.

“First of all we would like to offer our condolences and sympathies to the people of Dominica, following this catastrophic storm which has dealt a tremendous blow to the people and the country. We at NAGICO have been through this type of devastation before, as we have weathered several hurricanes in the past, so we understand how difficult a time this must be right now for the island.

“We intend to do our part to make the restoration process for our clients, as efficient and hassle free as possible,” Chairman of the NAGICO Group, Imran McSood Amjad said.

“And as such we have already deployed additional staff from some of our neighboring territories to assist our local staff who are no doubt suffering loss or traumatized at this time given the recent events and we do not want to put them under any further strain. We have also deployed a team of Claims Adjusters who will be solely focusing on handling the storm related claims submitted by our clients, as well as other resources necessary to complete the claims process in a timely manner.”

“Our hearts go out to the families who suffered loss and the entire population of Dominica at this time,” he said. “We have made a donation to the relief efforts and have started an internal Fund to further assist needy citizens, but one of our main focus now is to assist our client by settling their claims in a fast and fair manner as we have done in other territories which have had similar experiences like with Hurricane Luis, Marilyn, Lenny, George and Ivan to name a few.”

NAGICO Insurances has also advised that in addition to regular Monday to Friday office hours, their Branch Office in Dominica will be open on Saturdays until further notice, to handle all claims matters related to Tropical storm Erika.

McSood also reminded clients that the sooner their claim is reported, the quicker they will be settled. “We know that communication is limited and transportation at this time almost non-existent as a result of the destruction caused so we are opening all avenues to our clients,” he said.

“They can report their claim via our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address, via our Dominica NAGICO facebook page Office/910578905648916?fref=ts by simply sending us a message, or call us at our office 449-8990 or mobile: 275 -1314.”


Prime Minister Gumbs: Sint Maarten already taking measures to enhance good governance and criminal justice system

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, said on Sunday that joint cooperation and collaboration is the most feasible way to move forward in building and developing a longstanding relationship that is beneficial to both parties concerned within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Additional discussions will take place between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands with on how to tackle a number of areas such as border crossing crime, money laundering, the narcotics trade, robberies, and human smuggling and trafficking. 

“Sint Maarten and the Netherlands both agree that the country’s judicial system needs to be strengthened.  I am pleased with the outcome of the recent deliberations that took place in the Netherlands where Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson met with Dutch Ministers Plasterk of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations and Minister Van der Steur of Safety and Justice to discuss moving forward with respect to the protocol that was signed between both Governments.

“Based on a number of reports regarding integrity and the enhancement of good governance, country Sint Maarten started its own process to establish an integrity chamber, and around mid-August, the Parliament of our country passed the national ordinance to establish an independent integrity institution.  Fighting corruption and ensuring integrity are two of the top issues for this government,” Marcel Gumbs, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten said on Sunday.

The four-party Judicial Conference between the Ministers of Justice of the Kingdom of the Netherlands earlier this year decided that the overall judicial system of the islands needed to be strengthened.

The ministers emphasized that the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) needed additional capacity in order to fight border crossing crime and corruption in the interests of the people of Sint Maarten and of the Kingdom.

A Protocol to establish an Integrity Chamber and strengthen the Judiciary was signed on 24 May, 2015, between Sint Maarten and the Netherlands.


Urging end to ‘delaying' tactics, UN rights experts call for fairness in Guatemala’s genocide trial

AMERICAS – United Nations experts on genocide prevention and transitional justice called on Guatemalan judicial authorities to “prevent any further attempt at interference, obstruction of justice or manipulation of the law,” when the genocide trial against the country’s former de facto Head of State, and the former chief of intelligence resumes in January 2016.

“The delaying strategies, abusive use of judicial recourses and alleged threats and pressure against judges and prosecutors working on the case that have characterized the genocide trial, reveal significant flaws in the administration of justice in Guatemala,” said a joint statement by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff.

This statement is endorsed by the President of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary, Ariel Dulitzky, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Juan Méndez and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mónica Pinto.

Their appeal comes as a Guatemalan court decided to restart, in January 2016, the trial against former de facto Head of State, José Efraín Ríos Montt, and former chief of intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.

According to the statement, the two men are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for human rights violations committed against the Mayan Ixil population between 1982 and 1983. Reports estimate that 200,000 persons were killed or disappeared during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala (1960-1996).

“Time is critical,” the experts said. “The decision to schedule the new hearing for January 2016, does not reflect the decisive prioritization that the case merits. The defendants, witnesses and victims are all getting older. Two witnesses have passed away. Victims only ask to see that justice is served before they die.”

The human rights experts raised questions about the court’s decision, based on Mr. Ríos Montt’s mental health condition, to order the application of special procedures, which includes representation by a legal guardian and hearings held behind closed doors.

They said it is unclear why these procedures will apply to both defendants, while only Mr. Ríos Montt was found unfit.

“Denying victims and their families the right to justice by further delays and postponement of the trial will perpetuate feelings of frustration and discrimination,” the statement said. “Guatemala still needs to transform a culture of impunity into a culture in which the truth is told and individuals are held accountable, whoever they are. Impunity destroys the social fabric and perpetuates mistrust. A fragmented society is a society that cannot live in peace.”


WINAIR: Cancels all flights for Thursday, suspends some on Wednesday

SIMPSON BAY, SXM AirportDue to the imminent threat of tropical storm Erika we are informing the public that Wednesday August 26, 2015 WINAIR will be operating a normal flight schedule, except for:

WM049 St. Maarten – Tortola which is suspended,
WM355 (afternoon flight) St. Maarten – Nevis is suspended,
WM541-542 St. Maarten – St. Eustatius –St. Maarten is retimed 

All flights on Thursday August 27, 2015 will be canceled and WINAIR expects to resume normal flight operations Friday August 28, 2015, weather permitting.

If your flight is canceled, please call or email WINAIR reservations at +1 721 545-4237 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You will be accommodated on flights subject to availability. WINAIR’s Storm policy will be in effect allowing re-accommodation at no cost to the customer.

We urge you to take all safety precautions and stay safe and secure during this weather. WINAIR realizes the inconvenience caused and will continue to do our best to serve you.


NV GEBE researches alternative energy options. Results expected later this year

SINT MAARTEN – At a recent press conference, NV GEBE’s Chief Financial Officer Rene Gartner says the company is looking into alternative energy by carrying out an assessment.  The results of the assessment are expected during the fourth quarter of 2015 (October-November).  The results of the assessment will be presented to the board of supervisory directors. 

The assessment will be looking at trends and developments in fuel, engines and alternative energy options (solar, wind, geothermal, waste to energy).  The introduction of alternative energy is expected to lead to a reduction in costs and further improve services to the community.

One of the options being explored for alternative energy is using government buildings and the power plant at Cay Bay.

An area that needs to be regulated is solar energy with respect to the relationship between private users and the public grid system of NV GEBE.



Prime Minister Gumbs meets with St. Martin Prefete Laubies regarding preparations for Hurricane Danny

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, on Friday afternoon met with the Prefete of St. Martin and St. Barths Anne Laubies and Vice President Guillaume Arnell regarding preparations for Hurricane Danny. 

The Prefete and the Prime Minister briefed each other on the preparations that have been taken so far in preparation for Hurricane Danny.

A number of points were agreed upon with respect to the coordination and synchronization of certain activities in times of pre- and post-natural disaster events.

After each Emergency Operations Center or Disaster Committee meeting, the government representatives will exchange decisions that have come out of those meetings.

The closure of businesses was also another point to be coordinated between both sides of the island; closure of airports will also be coordinated; and both sides will also exchange communications that are disseminated to the public with respect to information and actions that need to be taken.

“The meeting with the Prefete was very informative.  As one island there should be some coordination at the disaster management level and this was what this meeting was about,” Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs said on Friday.


“PIJ-measure” to be executed at Miss Lalie Center

CAY BAY - At a court session behind closed doors, a 14-year old suspect has been sentenced to a so-called “PIJ-measure” (Placement in a Young Offender Institution) for a period of two years, according to the demand of the youth prosecutor.

Part of the file were psychiatric and psychological evaluations and a report from the Court of Guardianship about the suspect. It’s the first time in Sint Maarten that this “PIJ-measure” has been executed.

The PIJ-measure is possible based on the new Criminal Code that went into effect on the 1st of June 2015. The PIJ-measure is the heaviest criminal measure for minors and can be imposed on suspects between the ages 12 to 18 years.

It can be compared to the so called TBS-measure for adults and is therefore sometimes called “youth-TBS”. The main goals of the PIJ-measure are treatment and re-education, with a focus on preventing the act from happening again.

The PIJ-measure can be prolonged until a maximum of six years. The PIJ-measure will be executed at the Miss Lalie Center, the closed youth facility on Sint Maarten.

In January the judge will evaluate the progression of the measure. (Public Prosecution Service Sint Maarten)


Social Affairs and Labor meet Saba Statia stakeholders

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The RCN Unit of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) met with stakeholders on Saba and St. Eustatius on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The meetings were held in the form of workshops for entrepreneurs and dealt with the following subjects; labor affairs, the labor market, reimbursement, work and residency permit and collective wage sheet. The objective of this workshop was to offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive firsthand information regarding the labor processes and to pose questions they may have regarding labor and employment matters.  

The representatives of the Unit of Social Affairs and Labor were joined by colleagues from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the Tax Office (BCN) and the Labor Mediator for St. Eustatius and Saba, Mr. Rafael Boasman. On Statia the department of labor also participated. On Saba some fifteen business operators were in attendance.

On St. Eustatius the participation was registered at thirty companies.

Head of RCN Unit of Social Affairs and Labor, Margreth, de Groot is very pleased with the involvement of entrepreneurs on both islands. “I am happy we did this in the form of a workshop and together with other relevant partners such as IND, the Labor Mediator and the Tax Office. Participants were offered a one stop for information because all the agencies dealing with the labor processes were seated in the same room”. In November Social Affairs and Employment will hold similar workshops on both islands with the focus on labor inspection procedures. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


NAGICO backs education with donation to HYPE Agenda

PHILIPSBURG - NAGICO Insurances continues to invest in the community by supporting educational ventures, the latest being a financial donation to the 2015-2016 HYPE Agenda for high school students.

The donation will go towards printing costs for the Agenda.   

NAGICO Marketing Assistant Jamie-Lee Peterson presented the cheque to HYPE at NAGICO’s head office in Philipsburg on Friday, August 14. A group of students from the various high schools, who were part of the coordinating team, accepted the donation on behalf of HYPE.  

The locally produced Agenda is themed: “The journey travelled to achieve one’s goals.” This is the fifth edition of Hype Agenda. The first one was produced in 2008. Other issues were in 2010, 2013, 2014 and now for the 2015-2016 school year. 

The coordinating team involves a group of students from the various high schools in St.

Maarten. These students were actively involved in the production process and they determined the information they want to see reflected in the Agenda. They went out and conducted research and wrote most of the enlightening articles and profiles that appear in the Agenda. The articles reflect the general theme and they relate to the youth.  

Numerous young and adult role models from right here in St. Maarten as well as from Saba, St. Eustatius and internationally are featured throughout the Agenda, including our past and present national heroes.  

The Agendas are specifically tailored for the academic year and cover the months that coincide with the school year making them easy for students to use for school related reminders such as noting down their assignments, projects, homework and other school related things. Also included are useful information such as school vacation dates and study financing information. Pictures taken locally, featuring high school students are also in the Agenda. The HYPE Agenda Team believes that every high school student should have a copy of this agenda. 

HYPE contributing students include Yshmael Hermoso (Learning Unlimited); LeeAnn Wyatt (St. Dominic High); Genora Jankee (St. Maarten Academy Academic); Naomi Jankee (St. Maarten Academy Academic); Brandon Fitzpatrick (St. Dominic High); Aziza Baly-Vanterpool (Milton Peters College) and Celine Mayeko-Coklee (Learning Unlimited), Muskaan Dayalani (St. Dominic High); Jasmine Grannum and Rubecca Shadida Pierre (Caribbean International Academy); Jennifer Dinzey (St. Maarten Academy PSVE); Kimaeyu Mussington and Joanni Henano (MPC) and Cecilia Richardson (St. Maarten Vocational Training School).

Thanks to sponsors, HYPE managed to maintain the price of the Agenda low to make it affordable. Each agenda costs NAf. 10 or US $6 and are available at Penny's Department Store, Office World, Blue Point, Pete's Photo and at the respective high schools.

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