PHILIPSBURG – On Sunday afternoon, February 1st the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson joined the Prime Minister Hon. Marcel Gumbs in a joint press conference to give an update on integrity issues.
The opening statement by the Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson is as follows: “Governing based on perceptions, information manipulation and the use of powers not in the way intended and for the purpose given seems to be the new norm for the Dutch Government to keep its “colonies” in check and under control. These actions seem obviously to be based on the “good” principle that the aim justifies the means.
“What did St Maarten do wrong again, asks everyone? What St. Maarten has done, is doing is the following. St. Maarten has the audacity to take the initiative to itself fix the problems in its integrity architecture signaled in three integrity reports, two of which are of St. Maarten origin. One such recommendation is the establishing of and Integrity Chamber by the Wit-Samson committee, a committee established by St. Maarten.
“The committee recommends the establishing of an Integrity Chamber by National Ordinance and to anchor that institution and ordinance in the constitution of St. Maarten. That is exactly what St. Maarten is doing right now. The National Ordinance establishing an Integrity Chamber is presently at the Council of Advice for review.
“A quarter-master has been appointed to prepare the way for the Chamber and at the same time act as an integrity breech investigator and advisor. St. Maarten has seen to it that the Integrity Chamber is appointed independently and can function independently. There is political influence possible from the Council of Ministers and the parliament of St. Maarten in its composition or functioning.
“The only political influence possibility comes from the Kingdom Council of Ministers who has the possibility to propose the appointment of a member to the supervisory committee of the integrity chamber. The other two members of the supervisory committee are the President of the Joint Court of Justice and the Vice-Chair of the Council of Advice. This supervisory board proposes the persons to be appointed to the Integrity Chamber. The COM cannot deviate from the names proposed. The integrity chamber itself establishes its secretariat. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT!?
“By the way this is a committee (Wit-Samson) for which St. Maarten extended the hand of cooperation to the Netherlands to join and use, but got slapped down, because “the butcher must not test his own meat”. And a slap in the face because “the Government of St. Maarten itself is the subject of investigation”. And adding injury to insult: there is rampant intertwining between the underworld and the Government of St. Maarten. According to Minister Plasterk these accusations are to be found in the integrity reports. And here is where the information manipulation by the Dutch government takes form.
“The Wit-Samson committee explicitly stated that they have not established an intertwining across the board of the underworld with the government of St. Maarten. The committee was explicitly asked to investigate this aspect.
“Not all integrity breaches are criminal offences. Some are a matter of decency in government. The PwC report does not state anywhere that corruption (a criminal offence) is rampant at all levels of government even up to and through the Council of Ministers and the parliament. That is a conclusion drawn by Minister Plasterk and his supporters based on the examples of integrity breeches mentioned in the reports. In fact the PwC reports explicitly states the following:
“This Inquiry is not a penal inquiry or an inquiry designed to forensically establish admissible evidence within the meaning of a penal system.
The services performed do not include the provision of legal advice, and PwC makes no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation nor whether our recommendations are implementable under the law of Sint Maarten. Nothing contained herein should be taken to imply, infer, or in any other way represent legal advice or conclusions.”
“The report explicitly states too that it is an investigation into the architecture of the integrity structure of St. Maarten and not an investigation into the size and frequency of integrity breeches in St. Maarten.
“We cannot conclude that intelligence at the level of the Dutch government is lacking and therefore we can only conclude that this is purposeful miss-information geared towards manipulation of the opinions of the “buhne” and for trying to justify whatever it is they feel they must do to satisfy the hawks in the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament.
“It is ironic that the one recommendation that the Dutch government wants to impose on St. Maarten comes from the very same committee that the Dutch government did not want to participate in because St. Maarten should not investigate itself.
It is nearly comical, if it was not so sad, that the Dutch government is trying to stop St. Maarten from doing the very same thing that the committee recommends: establish by National Ordinance of St. Maarten an Integrity Chamber and anchor it (its independence) in the Constitution of Sint Maarten.
“It is diabolical that this Minister of the Netherlands first asks St. Maarten, via his representative in Philipsburg, to hold off on, delay the speedy establishing of the ordinance so that the Dutch government can give its input to help ensure an acceptable regulation and now declares that St. Maarten does not have a sense of urgency.
“It is outrageous and childish that the created delay is used to in a hurry make a bad piece of legislation, a draft General Kingdom Measure, to impose an Integrity Chamber on St. Maarten in which the clearly political motivated Dutch Ministers of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands have everything to say and St. Maarten is sidelined, only to be able to say to the Second Chamber: see how tough we are on St. Maarten like we promised!?
“It is an outright lie to state that the parliament of Sint Maarten has the last word on integrity breeches, when the sole role of parliament of Sint Maarten is to establish the Integrity National Ordinance on the Integrity Chamber that independently carries out the investigations as recommended by the committee.
“It is disgusting and saddening that Minister Plasterk (being pressured?) simply seems incapable of abiding by or allowed to stick to his owns words that, in accordance with constitutional law and practice, it is first up to St. Maarten to correct the situation:
- In his letter to the Governor of St. Maarten of 9 december 2013 (Kenmerk: 2013-0000749809) and
- To the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
“This is what he wrote in the letter to the Governor:
‘De regering van Sint Maarten is vanzelfsprekend de eerst aangewezene om uitvoering te geven aan de aanbevelingen die uit het onderzoek voortvloeien. De Rijksministerraad is uitsluitend aan zet indien en voor zover onverhoopt door de regering van Sint Maarten geen maatregelen getroffen zouden worden die geen recht doen aan aanbevelingen.’
“Furthermore there seems to be a new form of voluntary consultation and cooperation within the Kingdom: ‘Here is a draft General Kingdom Measure in which you have had no say and in which you will be marginalized and voluntarily placed under a form of higher supervision. You have until December 31st 2014 to voluntary (art. 38 Charter) agree to it and voluntary cooperate with it, or we will impose it (art. 51 of the Charter).’ Minister of Justice Hon. Dennis Richardson stated in his opening statement on Sunday. (Press Secretariat, Government of Sint Maarten Council of Ministers)