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Armed robbery suspect involved in gas station robbery arrested

COLE BAY - On Wednesday, April 24th at approximately 4.00 a.m., a male suspect identified with initials with initials F.J.C. was arrested by police in connection with the ongoing armed robbery investigation at Texaco Gas Station on Welfare road.

This armed robbery took place on Sunday April 21st at approximately 2.30 a.m. The arrest took place without incident and the investigation continues. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Nature Foundation Issues Tips on How Community Can Safeguard Against Issues Posed by Monkeys

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been handling many requests on what people can do to keep monkeys off of their property. With the insistent dry weather, the Nature Foundation has been receiving many calls from residents wondering how to keep monkeys off of their property.

“Because of the weather we have been receiving many calls from people asking how to get rid of these animals in their gardens and on their properties. We have therefore been researching the best ways the population can take the initiative to control the invasive species,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

The Foundation has also been working with counterparts in St. Kitts and Nevis and with specialists who work on controlling invasive species on how to effectively control the population in a sustainable way.

“The issue is cost. The Foundation in and of itself does not have the financial means or the necessary support to enter into an investigation on how to control the invasive monkey population. Therefore, we have been working with officials in St. Kitts as well as institutions outside of the region to come up with a strategy on how best to control the population.  In the meantime, we have come up with some recommendations, which may sound strange, but which have proven effective in other regions, in controlling the impacts monkeys have on communities:

The Foundation recommends a few tips:

  1. You can use a hosepipe or garden hose to squirt and wet them. They're not fond of being hosed and will run away. If they come into or near your house, you can use a water pistol.
  2. You can simply shoe them away by walking towards them and waving a dishcloth or towel at them. They may stand their ground and threaten you – but don't be intimidated and they will flee.
  3. Vervet monkeys are genetically predisposed to be fearful of snakes – so many advise placement of realistic looking rubber snakes in the garden – but never leave them in one place for too long – as they will learn to ignore it. Try tying it to a piece of string and moving it when the monkeys come close – and they will flee.
  4. Do not feed the monkeys
  5. Vervet monkeys are often scared off by dogs and having them on your property will keep them away.
  6. Vervet monkeys tend to be more afraid of men than women so a male confronting a monkey will be more effective than a female.
  7. Make sure your trash bins are covered and preferably have clipped on lids so that the monkeys aren't able to open them.
  8. Use bird netting or similar products to cover your vegetable gardens to keep monkeys away from your vegetables. Sprinkle hot pepper flakes or spray chili pepper infused water on plants to keep monkeys away from them.

 9.    Pick the fruit off of fruit trees

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Delegation completes discussions surrounding the Kingdom Law Disputes Regulation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Delegations from the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten recently made a working visit to the Netherlands from where they met with Kingdom partners for a series of discussions surrounding the Kingdom Law Disputes regulations.

Forming part of the Sint Maarten delegation were, the Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams as delegation leader; Member of Parliament Claude Peterson, Member of Parliament Silveria Jacobs, Member of Parliament Tamara Leonard and Member of Parliament Rolando Brison; The delegation was accompanied by second acting Secretary General of Parliament Mr. Garrick Richardson.

For these meetings the delegation members were divided into three work groups in which all three countries were represented. 

This draft Kingdom Law, which was submitted to the Second Chamber in November 2018, finds its basis in article 12a of the Kingdom Charter. The delegations are of the opinion that the current proposal that is on the table does not live up to the requirements of article 12a of the Kingdom Charter and neither does it live up to the standpoints formulated by the IPKO in 2015, which were also ratified by the Second Chamber via a motion in 2015. The islands would like to see a dispute regulation with an independent body that is able to give a binding judgement on strictly legal disputes based on the Charter of the Kingdom. 

On April 15, 2019 Members of the three delegations of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten started off their working week with a visit to the Council of State where they met with the representatives of the countries in the Council of State of the Kingdom. This Council has also issued an advice on this proposed law for a Dispute Regulation, as is regulated by law. 

The delegations also met with the Vice-Chairman of the Council of State. The topic of the Dispute Regulation was discussed and also the role that the Council of Advice, as an independent institution, could be given within that context. 

The last appointment for April 16, 2019 was a meeting with First Chamber Member, Mr. R. Ganzevoort of the GroenLinks on the Dispute Regulation. Mr. Ganzevoort emphasized that the islands would have to prepare to answer questions on the definition of ‘strictly legal disputes’.

On April 17, 2019 the Presidents of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten paid a visit to the President of the Second Chamber, Ms. K. Arib. This meeting was followed by a meeting with Mr. R. Jetten, Mr. J. Paternotte and Mrs. A. Diertens of the D66 about the Dispute Regulation. Everyone agreed that it would not benefit anyone to start a dispute about a Dispute Regulation. This regulation should be supported by as many Members as possible. 

The delegations also met with the permanent Committee for Kingdom relations of the Second Chamber on the topic of the situation in Venezuela. During a candid conversation, the delegations from Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten informed their Dutch colleagues of their concerns about the consequences of the situation in Venezuela. The Committee was very grateful to the delegations for informing them about the situation. 

After the discussion on the situation in Venezuela the delegations continued their planned meetings on the Dispute Regulation. The delegations met with Ms. N. Özütok of the GroenLinks and Mr. H. Krol of the 50PLUS. Both factions were positive about the three standpoints that were formulated in 2015 during the IPKO and ratified by the Second Chamber via the motion Van Laar. 

The working visit was continued on Thursday, April 18, with meetings with Mr. R. Bisschop of the SGP, Mr. C. van Dam of the CDA, Mr. A. Bosman of the VVD. The delegations also met with Mr. R. van Raak of the SP who shared his viewpoints on the proposal for a Dispute Regulation and the Charter of the Kingdom. This meeting was then followed by a meeting with Mr. N. Drost of the ChristenUnie. 

On Friday, April 19, the delegations of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten met with Professor A. van Rijn to exchange ideas on the topic of the Dispute Regulation and the proposal submitted by the Kingdom Government. 

The delegations ended their work visit with a final meeting with all Members of the delegations to discuss their work visit and to make further agreements. 

The delegations agreed that the general feeling is that the factions that they met with understand the positions of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. They are therefore not opposed to the possibility that the islands will propose an amendment to the proposal as submitted by the Kingdom Government. Many parties have expressed an interest to receive more information on the topic and also to receive the amendment before the handling of the law, and perhaps constructively provide feedback. The delegations will stay in close contact with the factions in the Netherlands.

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MHF responds to Lawyer Hatzmann about mental health care

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) on Tuesday sent out a statement as a reaction to the Dean of the St. Maarten Bar Association attorney-at-law G. Hatzmann. The MHF says, “…the well-intended publication of Mr Hatzmann, highlighted on the front page of the Daily Herald of last Saturday.”

The statement continues as follows: “Under the heading ‘Silent Marches’, Mr Hatzmann established that many psychological disturbed are extremely dangerous and that there are ‘dozens’ of these potentially life-threatening persons walking around on St. Maarten. Furthermore, he paints the picture that after serving a sentence, prisoners with a psychiatric background return to society without any noteworthy treatment. These are the arguments which form the base for his plead for a psychiatric detention facility on St. Maarten.

“The Mental Health Foundation recognizes the need for rehabilitation after detention. Therefore, we applaud this initiative and are very willing to work together to improve psychiatric care on St. Maarten.

“However, such a collaboration would be more efficient, if feedback would have been requested from the institutions responsible for psychiatric care on St. Maarten, which wasn’t the case. For this reason, the Mental Health Foundation is reacting to this article to rectify certain arguments and provide the nuance that a difficult topic of mental health requires.

Legislation.

“Mr Hatzmann as a lawyer and dean of the Bar Association with 12 years’ experience, please refer to the existing laws on St. Maarten.

  1. MHF provides quality care in accordance with the relevant indicators and protocols directed & supported by the laws as advised by our Medical and Legal advisors and the Government.
  2. Involuntary care at MHF is only possible in accordance with the laws, and with the declaration of the Minister of Justice.
  3. Mr Hatzmann spoke to the psychiatrist about his specific case. However, the treatment decisions are made by a Multi-Disciplinary team of professionals at the foundation as well as in collaboration with Social affairs, SJIB, Police and OM. Furthermore, families are involved in patient care as much as possible. Besides Mr Hatzmann’s legal expertise, he is as far as we know, not a health care professional. And so, to question the treatment methods and medical decisions made by this Multi-Disciplinary team of experienced health care professionals is out of place.

Facts and Stigma on Mental Health

“MHF presently has 1000 patients in its care of which the vast majority has a job and contributes to our society. Claiming that ‘’ there are dozens of severely mentally ill people out there walking around freely and are potentially life-threatening’’ is not supported by any tangible figures and will only increase the stigma, which does not help our cause.

One in every four people will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder (either big or small) at some point in their lives according to the WHO. Putting a label of ‘’unstable, violent & permanence ‘’ on the people (that had to courage to deal with their issues) is possibly the most destructive thing you can do as a society as it increases the stigma.

“This makes it harder for people to look for help because they are afraid of social judgment. This is a slippery slope that we should try to avoid by all means, and that is why we recommend a person-centered approach where resilience and human strength as starting point.

Psychiatric Care on St. Maarten

“MHF has from the onset of its existence in 2006 been working closely with the Public Prosecutor (OM), Police, the Prison, SJIB (probation), the Ministries of Health, Social Affairs and Labor, Justice and Turning Point, as well as many others. A few years ago there was a prosecutor who suggested St. Maarten needed a forensic psychiatrist and she could organize it.

“Her well-intended intentions never materialized because the reality is that there are not ‘dozens of dangerous psychiatric patients’ on St. Maarten. A forensic psychiatrist cost around half a million guilders per year for approximately ten persons of whom most problems have been solved locally or are still in the process of being solved. It is a complicated process that can only be solved if all involved parties (health, legal, government etc.) work together.

What needs to be done?

“We will not contend that on St. Maarten the psychiatric care is perfect, but we are getting there. Regardless, much has been accomplished in a short period of 12 years, prior to not having anything on St. Maarten.

“The best approach to improve psychiatric care would be to look at the bigger picture here and together, find out where we can make the most constructive and efficient improvements, rather than to build cases around incidents that happen, as is shown by the example that Mr Hatzmann refers to in his article: where a psychiatric prisoner on leave recently killed a woman in the Netherlands. A country with all so-called facilities available to prevent incidents, and it still happened!

Recommendation

“To the Dean of the Bar Association, we recommend bringing parties together with the objective of solving problems. Providing a one-sided story without requesting any feedback from us, based on one specific case and personal experiences have an adverse effect on problem-solving.

“MHF is there to solve complex psychiatric problems, and we could use professional assistance without downgrading of the work being done. We want to take this opportunity to invite the members of the Bar Association to visit the MHF facility to get a better understanding of the situation.

“Meet the team and understand the enormous challenges they are facing on a daily basis without complaining, and together we can work on a structural solution to this problem,” the MHF statement concludes.

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Four young men killed in car crash were returning from a party

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The four young men killed in a car crash on the A1 near Deventer around 6am on Monday morning were on their way back from a party in Enschede, the sister of one of the victims told local newspaper De Stentor.

Police are still trying to establish why the car they were in drove into the supports of an overhead matrix board and burst into flames. ‘It is a very tragic accident,’ a police spokesman said.

‘We do not know why the car left the road and drove into the gantry.’ Three of the four victims, all in their early 20s, have now been identified and all were keen amateur football players, De Stentor said.

Flowers have been placed at the site of the accident, where friends and family held a spontaneous gathering on Monday afternoon. (DutchNews)

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Sri Lanka bombing death toll rises, three Dutch among victims

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The death toll in the Easter Sunday bombings on Sri Lanka has risen to 310, and two more Dutch nationals have been added to the casualty list, the Dutch foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

A woman of 48 and a 12-year-old girl also died in the blasts. Both are dual nationals who live abroad the ministry said. They too were at the Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo, where the first Dutch victim was killed.

More details emerged about her in Tuesday’s Telegraaf. The paper, which named her as Monique, said she was on the island for the opening ceremony of a children’s wing at a hospital which she and her American husband had financed.

The hospital is in the southern city of Ratnatpura, some 80 miles from Colombo. Monique and her family had lived in Bangkok for more than 10 years, the Telegraaf said.

Some 40 people have been arrested since the blasts and officials are now looking into whether a local Islamist group and chief suspect National Thowheeth Jama’ath received ‘international support’ to carry out the attacks.

The Dutch foreign affairs ministry has sharpened its travel advice for the island, recommending that people avoid the areas where the attacks took place and obey the curfew, and warning of tight security checks at the airport. (DutchNews)

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Five killed in early morning motorway car crashes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Four people were killed in a car crash on the A1 near Deventer around 6am on Monday morning.

The car apparently drove into the supports of an overhead matrix board and burst into flames, broadcaster NOS said. ‘It is a very tragic accident,’ a police spokesman said.

‘We do not know why the car left the road and drove into the gantry.’ The police are also still trying to identify the victims. The motorway was closed for a time while police dealt with the accident but has now been largely reopened.

Elsewhere, a 19-year-old woman was killed, and a 24-year-old injured in an accident on the A28 when the car they were driving in hit the safety barrier, tipped over and ended up in the verge. Again, no other vehicles were involved, police said. (DutchNews)

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Dutch tighten travel advice for Sri Lanka, one Dutch tourist among bomb victims

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least one Dutch national was killed in the bloody attacks in Sri Lanka on Sunday, which left at least 290 people dead, the foreign ministry has confirmed.

So far 282 Dutch people have signed in to the Red Cross Ikbenveilig.nl register, where people in countries where disasters occur can let family and friends know that they are okay, broadcaster NOS said.

The Sri Lankan authorities raised the official death toll to 290 dead and 500 injured on Monday. At least 35 foreign tourists are among those killed in the explosions, set off at three churches around the country and at three busy hotels in the centre of Colombo.

The Dutch victim, a 54-year-old woman who did not live in the Netherlands, was killed in the explosion at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, the Dutch foreign ministry said.

According to the AD, she was on holiday with her family. The ministry has sharpened its travel advice for the island, recommending that people avoid the areas where the attacks took place and obey the curfew, and warning of tight security checks at the airport.

Dutch holiday companies said there is no reason to cut short the holidays of people already on organised tours of the island. However, the ANWB decided to cancel two trips which had been set to take place in the coming days, the NRC reported.

More than 20 suspects have been arrested in the investigation into the bombings. Meanwhile, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has confirmed the Sri Lankan authorities were warned two weeks ago that the attacks on Easter Sunday were being planned. No-one has yet claimed responsibility. (DutchNews)

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Two arrested at the Airport with gun clip/ammunition in carry-on luggage

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - On Wednesday April 17th a male and a female suspect identified with initials C.V. J. and M.M. H. were arrested by the Alpha Team at the Princess Juliana International Airport.

The suspects were arrested after a gun clip filled with ammunition was found in their carry-on luggage. The suspects were transported to the Philipsburg Police Headquarters where they were held for questioning. The investigation continues. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Shower less and store rain water to head off drought, water firm says

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Water company Vitens and the Overijsssel and Gelderland water boards have started an awareness campaign in an effort to head off a water shortage in the coming months following last year’s extreme summer temperatures.

Research by Kantar Public on behalf of Vitens has shown that the Dutch think their water consumption is around 60 litres a day when in reality they use twice as much.

Vitens has published a number of tips on its website to increase awareness of water consumption, with water use in bathrooms and gardens topping the list. Cutting showering time by one minute can lead to 40 litres of water saved in a week, the company said, while using the right amount of water to flush the toilet also helps.

Timely repair of leaking taps will also save water as will closing the tap while brushing your teeth, the companies says. They also want keen gardeners to do more to collect rain water.

Only a third of people with gardens currently use rain barrels to store water. Lats year’s extreme summer temperatures led to a 30% increase in water consumption over a number of weeks, the water boards calculated.

This has prompted the planting of tens of thousands of trees in Twente which will retain water. In addition, farmers who implement measures to prevent drought can qualify for a subsidy of up to an extra €10,000. (DutchNews)

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