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Emmanuel says govt owes public more info on Carnival

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher Emmanuel is of the opinion that government owes the people a better explanation about why it green lighted Carnival 2021. The MP said he is aware of the clause that the event could be called off if the situation warrants it, but “to just announce such a large event in a pandemic without proper explanation is unacceptable,” he said.

The MP made sure to point out that he does not hold the decision against the SCDF. The SCDF, he said, is mandated with one task; to organize Carnival for the country. “They were also place is a bad position last year when Carnival was cancelled and the Regatta was allowed to continue. So it’s not them. The issue is government,” he said.

He continued: “If the decision was mine, considering the circumstances, I would not have organized it. I think that is the first reaction from everyone. The government must have had its reasons for doing so. The burden falls on them now. What are the plans? What are the contingency plans? The Regatta is before Carnival, is that event being held? If yes, is under the same scrutiny of Carnival? What is the scrutiny? As usual with this government the public knows nothing, and has received no information,” the MP said.

MP Emmanuel said even a Minister publicly admitted that COM could have perhaps done a better job at informing the public. “They realize this after the fact. In this situation a government has the responsibility to safeguard its people and if they decide to go against that responsibility then at least, at the very least, tell us why, how, when, what, who and where,” the MP concluded.

The MP also made similar comments on Tuesday evening on SOS Radio when he re-iterated that the situation and Carnival do not go hand-in-hand.  

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Police requesting information on second suspect in fatal shooting case of July 27

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Police are continuing the investigation into the shooting that took place on July 27th, 2020 where a man lost his life on the Hyssop Road, in Cay Hill, the police said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. During the investigation it emerged that a second person must have been involved in the shooting.

On Tuesday January 12, 2021, the detective department arrested the first suspect with the initials M.R. in connection with the fatal shooting which resulted in the death of J.B.A.

After the arrest of the suspect, M.A. a search of the suspect's home was carried out. In the house of the suspect various items of evidence, such as a firearm, were seized.

While investigating the confiscated goods, it would appear that other persons should have more information on what exactly took place on Hyssop road on the night of July 27th 2020.

Even though this comprehensive investigation is still slowly progressing, the Detective Department is requesting the public to provide any additional information that can serve to help solving this case.

The investigating team can be reached on 5422222 ext 105, 210 or 219 or by calling the anonymous tip line on 9300 (free of charge).

You can also visit the website at www.policesxm.sx to report crime anonymously via the tip contact form or you can leave a Private Message via the Facebook page (Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten) if you know or suspect something. (KPSM)

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PFP Requests Vaccination Plan Update from Ministry of VSA

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Party for Progress members of Parliament Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson submitted critical questions regarding Country St. Maarten’s vaccination plan to Minister of VSA, Richard Panneflek.

In their letter, PFP explains that prior to the recently held IPKO session, the Parliament of St. Maarten received a COVID update from the Ministry of VSA. In the brief, Parliament was informed that the first working group on vaccines was held on 8 December 2020 and that additional groups were working on vaccine legislation and procurement, logistics, delivery, and communication, among other topics. The groups were meant to finalize and operationalize the implementation plans for St. Maarten’s vaccination plan over the last few weeks of 2020. The faction requests an update from the Ministry of VSA regarding the number of vaccines being made available to St. Maarten and whether or not

“We’re now eighteen days into 2021,” Gumbs stated in a comment to the media, “with no further updates. Taking into consideration the substantial requirements for receiving, storing and administering a vaccine, it would seem that the Government should have been further along. At this time, not even the question of ‘how many vaccines are we getting?’ cannot be answered.”

The faction further asked for an outline of logistical scenarios that have been mapped out for vaccine deployment, including registration for vaccination, human resources for actual administering of the vaccine and, perhaps most importantly, refrigeration capabilities for doses. Poor refrigeration can cause doses to be rendered unusable, thus limiting the number of persons who can receive the vaccine. Further to this, PFP asks the Minister to clarify what priority lists have been developed, highlighting the exposure vulnerability of frontline healthcare workers and first responders, justice workers, and 65+ citizens.

“Most countries and US states are prioritizing front-line healthcare workers as vaccine recipients,” the statement continues. “It would be our hope that we follow suit, and that this prioritization is expanded to include justice workers, particularly Immigration and KPSM, as they are more likely to come into contact with any visitors to the island and can therefore be considered a vulnerable group.

Additionally, the faction expressed concern over the impact that public perception on vaccination, both local and international, may have on the country’s recovering economy. In their statement to the media, both MPs state that they’ve taken note of the ongoing discussions in the community, whether pro or against the vaccine, but caution against personal positions going against global norms and trends.

“The global trend, particularly in our key tourism markets, is leaning towards vaccines being strongly recommended or mandatory before travel,” Peterson said. “Whatever side we as MPs or Ministers as Government land on when it comes to the pro or contra vaccine debate, Government has to consider the implications this will have on our tourism-based economy. This makes it even more vital that we have a roll out plan for vaccination for St. Maarten, especially considering that our neighbors to the North have already begun their deployment.”

The faction requested the Minister’s response to their questions by the end of this week, considering the time-critical nature of the matter.

MP PFP Raeyhon A Peterson

PFP MP Raeyhon Peterson

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LEIDEN UNIVERSITY AWARDS LAW DOCTORATE REGARDING NETHERLANDS ANTILLES DECOLONIZATION

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Leiden University, one of Europe's leading international research universities and the oldest university in the Netherlands, awarded a Doctorate of Law to Steven Hilliebrink regarding the decolonization of Aruba and the former Netherlands Antilles in 2007, the Pro Soualiga Foundation said in a press statement on Monday. 

Dr. Hillebrink defended his thesis entitled "The Right to Self-Determination and Post-Colonial Governance: The Case of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba" before a promotion committee of seven highly reputable professors of constitutional law.  The promotion committee included Dr. A.B. van Rijn who wrote the Handbook of Caribbean Constitutional Law (Handboek Caribisch Staatsrecht). 

Dr. Hillebrink made the following assertions regarding decolonization:

1) Dutch politicians are often not aware of the contents of the Kingdom Charter (pg. 141) 

2) The United Nations REFUSED to declare that the (former) Netherlands Antilles had attained a full measure of self-governance, a right to self-determination and that Chapter XI no longer applies. (pg. 102) 

3) While all members of the United Nations agreed that the Netherlands Antilles had achieved SOME measure of self-government, only a few stated that they (former Netherlands Antilles) had achieved a FULL-MEASURE of self-government. (pg. 221) 

4) India added a legally binding amendment, also known as the India Amendment , to Resolution 945X which states paragraphs a - d of Article 73 "remain in force and could be invoked by the GA (General Assembly) at any time." (pg. 223) 

5) Uruguay added a legally binding amendment, also known as the Uruguay Amendment , to Resolution 945X which reaffirms the competence of the General Assembly to decide whether a Non-Self Governing Territory has attained a full measure of self-governance. (pg. 224) 

6) Uruguay stated that they submitted the aforementioned amendment because (a) the Netherlands Antilles were still not fully self-governing (b) they wanted to offer the (former) Netherlands Antilles "a safeguard, an opportunity, of coming at a later date to knock at the door of the United Nations, should the need arise." (pg. 224) 

7) The majority of the Fourth Committee considered the decolonization of the (former) Netherlands Antilles to be incomplete. (pg. 224) 

8) The United Nations remains authorized to discuss the incomplete decolonization of the (former) Netherlands Antilles. (pg. 224) 

9) The members of the UN were careful to avoid creating the impression that they approved of the Kingdom Charter (pg. 215)

    (Resolution 945X dealt exclusively with article 73e of the UN Charter which was the issue of reporting to the UN.) 

10) The population of the Netherlands Antilles were not aware of the decisions being made regarding the Kingdom Charter 

 because the records of the deliberations were, and still are, not widely known among the "Antillian" population.

Based on the fact that Leiden University awarded a Doctorate of Law to Dr. Hillebrink, his assertions and declarations are to be considered fact rather than fallacious statements.  Dr. Hillebrink's thesis has been accepted as truth by seven professors, as well as Leiden University.  The Dutch state must now ask itself whether Leiden University, the Netherland's oldest institution of higher learning, is in the business of awarding law degrees based on baseless and erroneous information.

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Police to enforce ministerial decree concerning school fights after social media videos

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSURG) - The Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) has taken note of videos of school fights being circulated on social media since the commencement of the school year.

Based on this disturbing trend of misconduct and abuse, the police force would again like to inform the public, especially students, parents and guardians, of a ministerial decree issued by Honorable Minister of Justice Ms. Anna Richardson in November 16th2020.

With the issuance of this ministerial decree, the Honorable Minister of Justice has given directives to the Police Force of Sint Maarten to repressively act against misconduct by students and the community at large.

KPSM would like to emphasize that the infractions taken up in the decree will be thoroughly enforced in the districts and areas mentioned in the ministerial decree. Some of the infractions mentioned in the decree are:                                     

  • That there should be NO loitering by children or adults in the school districts.
  • Fighting and any other types of criminal activities will NOT be tolerated. This includes assault, assault with a weapon, possession of illegal weapons, possession of illicit substances, group fights, threatening, and disorderly conduct that disturbs the peace, among others.

Over the past years, we have strengthened our efforts to prevent misconduct and abuse while working with partners in our response to this type of behavior by putting the victims first.

Based on the fact that fights and related criminal activities are becoming more violent with a high frequency, a rising number of teenagers are actually being arrested for their in/out of school misbehavior and are being brought to court for their role(s) in criminal activity.

The top priorities of the police force are to provide victims with assistance, ensure swift and victim-centered investigations and establish safe and accessible reporting channels. It is evident that repressive actions alone will not lead to long-term solutions.

The Police Force will be engaging in more preventive measures, especially at the community level. The Youth and Morals Department and the community officers are committed to working closely with communities and partners to end such abuses and to establish a safe environment for victims.

As an immediate preventative action, the Police Force is requesting the cooperation of parents with the following.

  • Talk to your child(ren).
  • Make sure that the child(ren) are picked up on time to avoid them loitering around.
  • Check their bags often to make sure they are not carrying any illegal items to school.                                    

 Tips for students on how to avoid a fight:

  • One way to cope with a bully is to ignore him or her. If someone is teasing you, just walk away.
  • Remain calm.
  • Make it clear that you have no desire to fight.
  • Tell your parents or the school principal.

“The Police Force of Sint Maarten is encouraging all victims of these types of crimes to come forward and make an official complaint at the Detective Department. We would also like to ask anyone with knowledge about any type of misconduct to report these to the police or to provide us with any visual material that can help to further investigate these acts.

“Anyone who has information that can help the Police Department suppress these types of infractions should immediately contact the detectives via phone at 1-721-542-2222 ext. 203/204/205, the anonymous tip line # 9300 or persons with information can also send a private message via our Facebook Page - Police Force of Sint Maarten – Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website https://www.policesxm.sx/24/7.

“The Police Force (KPSM) is once again are reminding students about the zero-tolerance policy when it comes to school and gang fights and we are also pleading with all parents and the community to get involved in trying to alleviate this rapidly growing problem. Parents of students involved in these fights should also be reminded they are also partly responsible for the behavior attributed to their minor children. The Police Force is urging the community at large to motivate our youngsters to be “Up Standers” and not “bystanders”: Don’t cheer it on!!!!” (KPSM)

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Chris: Chairman of Parliament setting dangerous precedent

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Sewing seditious behavior and interfering with civil servants executing directives is a dangerous precedent to set, says Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel in response to a circulating video of Chairman of Parliament Rolando Brison confronting economic inspectors at a nightlife establishment.

In the video, Brison is recorded chiding and questioning the inspectors for trying to close the establishment, questioning their authority and legal basis. He further asked the inspectors if they "have a conscience" and called them "arrogant".

The fundamental problems with Brison's actions, the MP said, are many. First, as an MP and Chairman of Parliament, Brison should let and encourage citizens to use the means of protest available to them and deal with the matter the correct way with the economic affairs department and the Minister of TEATT.

"It does not matter how you feel, let the inspectors work and let the business owner protest. If the inspectors did something wrong, then their department head and the Minister will correct that," Emmanuel said. He added that Brison's interference adds more to the speculation that government officials use their positions to influence matters in certain beneficial directions. "It was poor judgment," MP Emmanuel said.

MP Emmanuel explained that the inspectors did not even have to mention a Minister, once their management gives them an instruction. The Minister do not authorize everything, management cannot be dismissed in this process. Additionally, he said, the Prime Minister and the Minister of TEATT are on record as stating that economic controls would be stepped up to ensure that businesses are adhering to the implemented COVID measures. "That alone is a general directive," the MP said.

"It could also be seen as the Minister sending him to interfere as a result of her own conflict of interest with the land upon which the establishment sits, or reportedly the MP was defending personal interests of associates doing business in the establishment which is also a conflict of interest," MP Emmanuel said.

The MP said Brison's actions could also be viewed as inciting seditious and belligerent behavior by business owners whenever the inspectors attempt to execute directives, making their jobs more difficult.

"The Chairman has the time to do this but can't find the time to call meetings and inform the people about the COHO and other changes coming to the country. This despite his coalition partner, the PM, saying she updates Parliament regularly. The Chairman has time to cheer the fall of the Dutch government on social media, but just last week remain silent when the PM said signing agreements with Holland signals a new beginning between the two countries. This government is totally detached from actual governing and improving the lives of the people of St. Maarten," MP Emmanuel said.

Now the Minister of TEATT has to provide an explanation about what exactly happened," Emmanuel said. "We are talking about the highest seat in the land. It behooves the Minister of TEATT to provide an explanation about how this situation occurred since her apparent directive was questioned," MP Emmanuel said.

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SCDF Elated COM gives Greenlight for Carnival 2021

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) is elated to announce the decision of the Council of Ministers to greenlight the planning and execution of Carnival 2021. SCDF was given the opportunity to present and discuss its COVID-19 precautions and plans to the Council of Ministers, and as such, the foundation is ready to meet and finalize planning with all Carnival stakeholders for St. Maarten’s annual festival this year.

Taking into the consideration the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, SCDF is doing its best to ensure a safe and responsible festival for the revelers who are willing to adhere to the new precautions & rules, while still providing access for those who rather experience Carnival from the comfort of their homes. “Changes in the way we have done things in the past is inevitable and we must continue to adjust to our new normal. SCDF will be embarking on an intense information and awareness campaign which will begin soon,” stated SCDF President Alston Lourens.

He urged to public to pay keen attention to the many announcements that will now follow about Carnival 2021, in particular the foundation’s increased safety measures.

“We believe that our plans have the potential to give the people of St. Maarten a safe and responsible fete with the cooperation and adherence of the public and all Carnival stakeholders. As the Foundation charged with organizing St. Maarten’s largest festival, we take this opportunity to thank the Council of Ministers for understanding our urgency, while seeing the value and importance of finding a way for us to move forward during these challenging times,” he continued.

SCDF joins revelers, booth holders, performers, calypsonians, promoters, sponsors and troops in getting ready to experience our music, food and colorful culture this coming April 2021, in a new way.

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Consultation on Judicial Cooperation between the Four Kingdom Countries Successful

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Especially in times of crisis, it is of great importance to continue to work together well and constructively within the Kingdom.

Today, Thursday, the Ministers of Justice Grapperhaus (the Netherlands including the Caribbean Netherlands), Bikker (Aruba), Girigorie (Curaçao) and Richardson (St. Maarten) met to discuss judicial cooperation within the Kingdom. This time, State Secretary Knops of the Interior and Kingdom Relations also joined the meeting.

Data protection and information exchange

In tackling crime, it is important that countries are able to quickly exchange information with each other, with robust data protection. Therefore, the ministers have made agreements to ensure that the protection of data is arranged unequivocally. Discussions also focused on how the islands' information hubs can continue to be developed through the correct training courses and earmarked capacity.

Exchange of knowledge and expertise

The quality of the public prosecutors is also a priority on the countries' agenda. Today, agreements have been made so that local prosecutors (from the islands) are trained every year. Additionally, agreements were made about financing the process. Further there has been compliance on the education programmes on law in the countries, so that graduates of the universities of Aruba and Curaçao can have equal access to selection and training courses for the professions of lawyer, judge and public prosecutor in the Netherlands. These agreements will also encourage exchanges of these professionals between the countries and enhance the quality and diversity of legal professions.

Uniform criminal procedural law

Criminal procedural law contains the rules on how the police and public prosecution service can detect violations and on the way in which judges should decide on these violations. The modernisation of the Wetboek van Strafvordering (Code of Criminal Procedure) in the three countries and the Caribbean Netherlands will make the criminal process more efficient and, among other things, give more rights to victims. For the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office, the same rules apply throughout the Caribbean part of the Kingdom for tracing criminal offences. The judges can also apply the same rules for trying these cases. Agreements have therefore been made so that these codes have the same content and come into force at the same time.

Strengthening the rule of law

'Strengthening the rule of law' has also been discussed, as part of the country packages. The four countries have made a dynamic start with the implementation of these measures. The Netherlands is making a structural amount of up to 45 million euros available to strengthen the rule of law in the Caribbean countries within the Kingdom.

The aim of the six-monthly consultation is to achieve agreement on a joint, coordinated approach to the shared judicial issues facing the various countries. During the consultation Minister Grapperhaus of course also represented the interests of the Caribbean Netherlands, namely Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Judicial Four Parties Consultation (JVO) was once again a digital meeting chaired by Aruba. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Aging with Grace Show Talks COVID-19 Vaccines this Sunday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – Aging with Grace is an online show aired on Facebook Live every Sunday at 3:00 pm and hosted by Drs. Linda Richardson, a community leader who has successful had careers in linguistics, education, and political advisory. Started in April 2020 during the emergency lockdown at the onset of the pandemic, this show is designed to empower seniors to live their best life while providing a blueprint for youngers on how to do same.

The focus has been topics such as aging in the corona age and health. Since its inception it has become a vehicle to inform the community of important related matters. Reaching thousands of viewers in the Caribbean, Europe, and the USA, this program has had the honor of guests such as Makhicia Brooks, director of St. Maarten Development Fund, Former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, and international speaker, author, Gladys Agwai (USA).

Aging with Grace is in its the second season and share unique experiences such as a virtual Mother’s Day Song Festival (May 2020) and a virtual exercise class that included a virtual Zumba session. One of the key features of the show is that the virtual audience can send in questions and get answers live. Officially a retired civil servant and passionate about health and well-being, Drs. Richardson started this show as a means to inform audiences of the decades of personal research and invite experts to share on health topics.

This Sunday, January 17, 2020, epidemiologist Mrs. Eva Lista -De Weever, Director of Department of Collective Prevention Services (CPS). Mrs. Lista was a guest on Aging with Grace show before, where she informed the viewers on the COVID-19 and the guidelines to prevent its spread. Also, on the program is visiting epidemiologist, Dr. Leigh Bowman (UK), who specializes in tropical medicine with extensive experience in outbreaks, will be guests on Aging with Grace. This special edition will focus on providing information on the COVID-19 vaccines as there are some concerns. These medical professionals will shed some light on this matter.

Mrs. Lista holds an MSc in Public health and has experience with epidemics such as Ebola Outbreak. Originally from St. Maarten, Mrs. Lista has worked in Canada and in the US extensively studying the causes and effects of diseases in human population and ways to manage outbreaks. Dr. Bowman is visiting from the United Kingdom and is a Fellow of Royal Geographical Society, Member of British Exploring Society. Dr. Bowman has more 10 years of experience across academia, government, and international NGOs with much experience in working on outbreaks in low- and middle-income countries (dengue, Zika, and now COVID-19). Former roles with Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation. Currently consultant epidemiologist to AMI/Collective Prevention Services, helping lead the response to COVID-19.

This episode is going to be informative and interactive and will take place on Sunday, January 17 at 3:00 PM (AST). To see join live or view replays of previous shows, go to www.facebook.com/groups/agingwithgracetv. For inquiries, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bowman Dr

Dr. Leigh Bowman (UK)

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CPS detects COVID-19 among its staff

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Collective Prevention Services (CPS) would like to inform the general public that after almost one year of being on the COVID-19 forefront, there have been no cases in-house. However, on January 13, CPS detected COVID-19 among its staff. The department immediately enacted their plan to deal with any positive cases, including immediate testing of staff.

Staff members that have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus will remain in isolation. CPS will continue to monitor and test all staff over the next two weeks to limit further transmission. Furthermore, CPS has activated their contingency plan to ensure that all COVID-19 related tasks and public health-related services, including the baby clinic and vector control, continue as normal. 

“I’d like to remind the public that COVID-19 can affect anyone at any time. CPS would like to reassure our clients that all efforts are in place to safeguard the health of our staff and the public. Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and maintain a 2-meter distance from others,” stated Department Head Eva Lista- de Weever.

Persons experiencing signs and symptoms which may be related to COVID-19, and persons who have been in close contact with a confirmed case are encouraged to make use of CPS’ free COVID-19 testing drive thru from 9:30am - 11:30am in Point Blanche at the lot before the harbor. Any weekend testing will remain by appointment only.

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