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Motion to establish social minimum adopted

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Island Council want the new Dutch Government to see the establishing of a social minimum based on the actual cost of living included in its coalition agreement. The Island Council on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 adopted a motion which asked the ‘formateur’ and the political leaders working on a new coalition agreement to secure this.

The letter that the Island Council will be sending to the ‘formateur’ and the political parties along with the motion states that the Caribbean Netherlands “deserve a clear place” in the new coalition agreement. The Island Council advocates the establishing of a social minimum as soon as possible based on the actual cost of living. Pending this decision-making and implementation process, citizens who need it should receive a supplement to cover their subsistence costs.

“Despite the many studies and pleas which indicate the establishment of a social minimum as an urgent matter, political The Hague has persistently refused to address the unacceptable socio-economic situation in the Caribbean Netherlands. Through this way we express our common message and concerns to you once again. We urge that this undignified treatment of citizens in the Caribbean Netherlands be corrected,” it was stated in the letter, which was read by Island Council Member Carl Buncamper during Wednesday’s meeting.

Violating duty

In the motion, the Island Council mentioned the various treaties and laws that state that everyone has a right to an adequate standard of living, that everyone should be treated equally and that the Dutch Government is responsible to ensure the subsistence of its population. In the opinion of the Island Council, the Netherlands has been violating its duty of care imposed by (fundamental) laws and treaties.

The motion mentioned the fact that whereas a social minimum based on the necessary cost of living was established for the Netherlands, this was not the case for the Caribbean Netherlands. “The Dutch Government has applied an unnecessary and not convincingly argued differentiation between the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands.”

Poverty line

Fact is that a large part of the population of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba lives below the poverty line and does not experience an adequate standard of living, including the elderly, children and other vulnerable groups. The results of past reports and research have not translated into the establishing of a social minimum based on the actual cost of living, which is very high on the islands.

The policy of the Dutch Government so far has not led to an improvement of the income position and purchasing power of the islands’ population, or only very marginally. Contrary to the Netherlands, the wages and benefits for many people on the islands remain far below the calculated level of necessary living expenses. “With this the Dutch government has for years knowingly maintained unequal treatment between the population of the Netherlands and the population in the Caribbean Netherlands.”

Unequal treatment

According to the motion, the various reasons used by the Dutch Government not to establish a social minimum that is based on the actual cost of living do not hold. The motion further mentioned that the Dutch Parliament has repeatedly asked the Dutch Government to eliminate the unequal treatment and to establish a social minimum based on the necessary cost of living. The strong opinion of the National Ombudsman with regard to this issue was stated in the motion as well.

All three Caribbean Netherlands islands have now passed a similar motion, the driving force behind this being that they are in agreement that the social minimum should be set and that by adopting these motions, a strong signal is sent to The Hague.


Correctional Institution Caribbean Netherlands gets family room for visitors

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - As of the 1st of October 2021, the Judicial Institution Caribbean Netherlands (JICN) will make it possible for detainees to have family visits in the so-called family room. This space offers detainees and their families the opportunity to meet in a homely environment, once the detainee meets the conditions set.

The family room is a specially equipped space within the JICN where detainees can receive their visitors in a homely environment, without a partition being placed between them. The facility is intended to give detainees better opportunities to maintain relationships with their families, especially their children. Maintaining ties with family and friends is an important part of the reintegration process, preparing detainees for reintegration into society.

The family room visit is therefore not a right but a privilege that can only be granted to the detainee if he or she meets a number of strict conditions. For example, the detainee can only submit an application for use of the family room after the first six months in detention and only if he or she shows the desired behaviour within the institution.

A detainee may receive up to three family members at the same time in the family room during the established visiting hours. Under the indirect supervision of a JICN employee, a detainee can spend an hour with the family. Visitors are informed prior to the visit about the rules that apply during the visit in the family room.

The introduction of the family room is a new step in the Detention and Reintegration (D&R) policy of the JICN. By stimulating and rewarding desirable behaviour on the part of the detainee and by punishing undesired behaviour, detainees are motivated to work towards their reintegration as best as possible and to reduce the risk of recidivism. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


Statia Heritage Research Commission officially installed

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) has officially been installed on Friday, September 17th, 2021. The commission consisting of 15 members will focus on two key points.

One is to evaluate the Golden Rock burial ground and to make recommendations on how to continue with this specific project. In addition, SHCR will provide community and expert opinions on cultural heritage research practices on Statia including recommendations for changes as required by international standards.

SHRC was initiated in July 2021 and started preparations in response to the public criticisms of current heritage research practices and the recent Golden Rock Burial Ground excavation of enslaved Africans.

With the formal decree designated last Friday, September 17th, SHRC consists of 15 members, including 5 Statian Community leaders and 10 Caribbean professionals from six countries. The Chair of the SHRC is Dr. Jay Haviser. He was selected primarily due to his position as President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), and his decades of experience in the Netherlands Caribbean.


The first actions of SHRC included the set-up of the commission members and the compilation of issues to be dealt with. The second phase of the SHRC is currently underway, with four separate sub-groups within the SHRC, each having represented a Statia Community leader, an anthropologist, an archaeologist and a heritage specialist. These four sub-groups will assess the situation and will prepare separate evaluations. All four statements will be brought together in a final evaluation document.

A key aspect of the procedural revision recommendations will be to bring the Statia Government up to date with international standards for the handling of human remains and archaeological research. Within international standards (re. IACA, NAGPRA, etc.) the Ancestral Community related to any human burials has priority for research and excavation decisions regarding their ancestors. This involves both initial approval for research and inclusion of the Community in all phases of the archaeological research of their ancestor's remains. An initial role of the SHRC is to determine if these professional practices were conducted appropriately at the Golden Rock Burial Ground excavations by research contractors for SECAR. 

Second and third phase

The second and more significant role of the SHRC is to propose concise recommendations for revisions in government practice and the implementation of international standards for heritage research of ancestral burials on Statia (and the BES islands). It is most beneficial when both community voice and scientific data collection can work together with mutual respect for those ancestors being studied. The SHRC recommendations will include the priority role of the Community Voice in heritage research, the appropriate policies for handling of artifact collections and the re-burial of human remains. The advice will also include practical revisions for research responsibilities, including participation with thorough Community engagement.

During the third phase the SHRC will organize a local Statia Community Inquiry for public opinions on this sensitive issue. A potential Round Table will be planned for public discussion later in the year. The final report of SHRC is scheduled to be submitted to the Statia Government at the end of 2021. (Statia GIS)


Ministry of VROMI Request Over the Bank Applicants to Submit Copies of Paperwork

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) has begun their own investigation into alleged signed draft decrees by former Ministers of VROMI between the years 2014-2018 for the area known as 'Over the Bank'.

All persons in possession of signed draft decrees and letters of intent signed in the years 2014-2018 for the area known as 'Over the Bank' are hereby requested to submit to the email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the following documentation: 1) the submitted request for land with the DIV# on said application, 2) the signed draft decree, 3) the letter of intent from said Minister pertaining to said land located at 'Over the Bank' and 4) a copy of a valid Identification Card or passport.

All documentation as requested above needs to be submitted no later than November 1st, 2021.

Please ensure to also provide your contact information (which must include your current address, phone number and email address [in the event the email address being used to submit the documents is not your own personal email address]).


Minister of Justice visits the prisons in Almelo and Zwolle in the Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS - The Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson, visited the penitentiary institutions (hereafter PI) in Almelo and the Penitentiary Psychiatric Center (hereafter PPC) section in PI Zwolle on Tuesday September 21st, 2021.

With Dutch (financial) support, Sint Maarten intends to replace the Point Blanche prison and House of detention with a prison that is built in accordance with the latest standards and will apply policy reforms to address inmate rehabilitation. The prison envisioned will be comparable in size to PI Almelo, where there is room for 190 detainees. Forensic care, which is provided in the PPC Zwolle, will also be necessary in Sint Maarten’s new prison facility.

The first prison visited was PI Almelo, where the Minister was welcomed by Ton Golstein, the director at the institution, and his staff. PI Almelo was selected as the prison to be visited by Minister Richardson due to its scale and size. It is one of the smaller prisons in the Netherlands that can serve as an example to Sint Maarten and from which we can learn a lot due to its comparable capacity.

Ton Golstein formed part of the Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI) group that came to Sint Maarten to support the prison after hurricane Irma. That DJI group made a thorough analysis of the Point Blanche prison and House of Detention in 2017 and produced a report that serves as the plan of approach to improve the prison today. Mr. Golstein and his colleagues were therefore very familiar with Sint Maarten’s situation which allowed for meaningful dialogue and suggestions for the prison on Sint Maarten.

Ton Golstein said: “Among other things, the Minister wanted to take a look at the Extra Care Facility section within our prison. Such a department, for vulnerable detainees, does not exist in Sint Maarten.”

One of the sentiments expressed in conversation to the Minister is the concentration to ensure for after care to be facilitated upon release. This is the efforts of the programs at PI Almelo to avoid that ex-inmates from falling back into a life of crime.

“We have also shown her our House of Recovery (Huis van Herstel), where detainees from the region spend the final stage of their detention in a less secure setting and receive extra care and attention so that they can reintegrate and become productive members of society,” says Ton Golstein. The Minister also received a tour of a large production facility called ‘De Fabriek’ (“The Factory”), which offers inmates as well as persons with intellectual disabilities, an environment to work in and earn money. The Factory is made possible in cooperation with stakeholders from the local business community.

In the afternoon, Minister Richardson visited the PPC section in PI Zwolle. In a PPC, high intensive care is provided in a secure setting to inmates with serious mental health and psychiatric disorders. PI Zwolle offers space to 350 inmates, including 146 spaces within the PPC section.

“In addition to our establishment, PI Haaglanden, PI Vught and JC Zaanstad also have such a PPC facility,” says deputy branch director, Marieke Verhoeff.
Staff working at this PPC particularly have experience with the Dutch Caribbean and establishing a forensic care facility from the ground up. Minister Richardson aims to have such expertise applied in Sint Maarten as well to establish a similar, much needed forensic care section for mentally challenged inmates. Only then can they receive adequate care needed to treat and stabilize their condition.

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Minister Richardson together with her support staff, Koen Ketelaar-Head of Treatment, Jan Gorter-Forensic Pychiatrist, Marieke Verhoef-Director of the Penitentiary Psychiatric Center.



Police holds Anti-bullying info sessions at S.D.A. School

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Upon the invitation of the Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, personnel for the Police Force of Sint Maarten’s Youth and Morals Division held an anti-bullying and cyberbullying information session for fifth graders on September 16.

Via such information sessions, police aim to establish a more meaningful and positive connection between police officers and children in elementary and secondary schools.  

The KPSM management team expresses gratitude to Seventh Day Adventist School for its invitation. (KPSM)

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Response to Parman International B.V.’s Press Release on the Sale of Banco di Caribe

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - In light of the press release issued by Parman International B.V. (Parman) on September 16, 2021, the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS) deems it relevant to provide the following clarification.

In connection with the proposed sale of the shares in Banco di Caribe (BdC), the CBCS organized a shareholders’ meeting on May 25, 2021. As a shareholder in Ennia Caribe Holding S.A., Parman was provided with a written explanation of the agenda together with the invitation to that meeting.

Parman did not attend that meeting and, consequently, no resolutions could be adopted. In such cases, the CBCS, as the competent authority under the emergency regulation, is authorized by law to make the necessary decisions on its own and has made use of this provision for the purpose of selling BdC’s shares.

In summary proceedings held in May of this year, Parman had already claimed that the CBCS should be barred from selling the Ennia Group’s assets (such as BdC). In its decision in these summary proceedings, dated May 28, 2021 (CUR202101147), the court rejected that claim (as well as Parman’s other claims), holding that the CBCS’s authorization under the emergency regulation also extends to the sale of assets.

The comments made in Parman’s press release about the Ennia Group being in excellent financial condition when the emergency regulation was first issued are far removed from reality. This is evident from the mere fact that the emergency regulation was issued by the Court.

Moreover, an in-depth investigation, conducted by the CBCS once the emergency regulation had been issued, revealed the deficits to be larger than originally believed. These deficits had been the result of large-scale, unlawful withdrawals of funds that should have been invested profitably for the benefit of the policyholders.

To obtain compensation for these unlawful withdrawals, on October 11, 2019, the CBCS initiated legal proceedings on behalf of Ennia against several individuals, including Mr. Ansary, as those responsible for the deficits.

In these proceedings, the case is set for plea on October 14 and 15, 2021. Several attempts were made in recent years to find a solution to Ennia’s substantial deficits in consultation with Mr. Ansary. To date, however, Mr. Ansary has failed to acknowledge both the problem and its magnitude, as Parman’s press release of September 16, 2021, further illustrates.

In all this time, Mr. Ansary has failed to show any regard for the interests of the policyholders and thus for the interests of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The CBCS carries the sole responsibility for the implementation of the emergency regulation at Ennia.

From the very outset, it has followed a most meticulous and professional approach, seeking the assistance of various external experts, and the same applies to the steps that have led to BdC’s sale.


Residents advised to Check Gardens/Yards for Mosquito Breeding Habitats after Rainfall

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on residents to help stop the spread of mosquitoes by preventing them from breeding in your backyard or garden after rainfall events. The best way to manage a mosquito problem is to tackle it at its source: keep the mosquitoes from breeding.

Take action after every rainfall event and end the breeding by not letting your home be a breeding site for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also need to feed in order to reproduce, so avoid being bitten by joining the fight to stop the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Source reduction is the key to decreasing the mosquito population. Due to the tropical nature of our climate, breeding habitats are in abundance, and many of them are unfortunately man-made.

A bite by an infectious Aedes aegypti mosquito, spreads diseases – Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever -, and therefore it is crucial for every household to prevent its breeding.

Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a half-inch of water. This isn’t a lot of water, and plant saucers are one of those unassuming places that can gather a small amount and still be a huge breeding site for your backyard mosquito.

Breeding sites include anywhere that water can settle for a certain time from garbage to your flowers/plants. This includes tin cans, old tires, empty paint cans, buckets, old saucers, flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase, old pet dishes, unused plastic swimming pools, boats on dry dock, or other containers that collect and hold water.

Repair or prevent outside leaks. Plumbing that runs outside can be affected by exposure to the weather, resulting in minor leaks. Window air conditioners often drip condensation, which can pool on the ground. Dripping outdoor faucets also pool on the ground. Repair these problems to minimize water collection as much as possible.

Every household must do its part to eliminate Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites.

Once again, it is very important to check around your yard to make sure there is no standing water after a rainfall event, especially during the hurricane season when the country experiences more rainfall due to passing tropical weather systems.

A few tips/reminders: Get rid of any unused pots or bins or turn them upside down, so they don’t collect water; Keep trash and recycling bins covered. If you can, try drilling drain holes into the bottom of them; keep a fine-mesh screen over rain barrels, water tanks and cisterns.

Take a look at your plants, once your plants are collecting water in between the leaves and the stem, these too pose as a breeding site.  

For issues surrounding mosquito breeding sites, contact CPS’ vector control team by calling 914. Ask to be connected to the vector control team. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with supporting pictures and contact information to report a mosquito nuisance or request assistance.


3,396 receive Tzu Chi emergency food packages

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - A total of three thousand three hundred and ninety-six persons in need in Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin as well as 18 institutions received food packages from the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation as part of its emergency food relief recently. 

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases the foundation’s volunteers, at one point during the relief, went house to house to deliver the food packages, which contained rice, flour, oil, baking powder, dry peas, jam, peanut butter, toilet paper, Clorox and Club Social biscuits. 

The emergency relief period ran from May 16, to Jul 30, 2021.  A total of 240 volunteers participated in the exercise. 

Volunteers were happy to be part of the relief. One volunteer in particular shared his story of overcoming bullying while attending a local high school and now uses his time productively to help others. The young man said his family lost their place of residence located in French St. Martin during the passing of Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The family later relocated to the Dutch side in Sucker Garden. While attending school on the Dutch side, the young man said he was subjected to severe bullying to the point where he was considering suicide. After penning a suicide letter and giving it to one of his classmates, he received an intervention and counselling and now realizes that things do get better, life is worth living and there is a lot in store for him and his future. He is now happy to be using his time to help others as part of the Tzu Chi Foundation. 

Recipients were also grateful for the assistance received. Helen Hunt from French St. Martin said it had been an honor to meet the Tzu Chi family and urged the foundation to keep up the good work it is doing in the community and to continue to show love and compassion because the world needs it. 

Another recipient who said he went through a lot of trials and tribulations in life and had been taken advantage of a lot, was happy for the assistance received and urged Tzu Chi to continue its efforts.

One grateful recipient prayed after receiving her package thanking Tzu Chi and its volunteers for the assistance received in her native Spanish language. 

Another recipient said Tzu Chi does not only provide assistance, it also challenges us to share with others. “Tzu Chi not is not only giving you a bag of food. There are so many other things that Tzu Chi does as a foundation. On the bag has the name of the foundation and we encourage you to go online and look up the information. There are so many things that you will be able to learn and see what the foundation is doing,” she said, adding that Tzu Chi has constructed hospitals in many countries around the world, has a robust education system from early education to university and is located in many countries around the world. 

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung is grateful to all volunteers for their efforts and recipients for graciously accepting the assistance.

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MP Gumbs proposes to end Parliament’s membership to Parlatino

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With an eye to redirect Sint Maarten’s limited resources into initiatives that would deepen cooperative ties between the Dutch Caribbean and other islands in the region, Party for Progress (PFP) leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs on Friday submitted a proposal to Parliament that would end the body’s membership to the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

“Parliament, and by extension the country and people of Sint Maarten, spend US $30,000 in annual membership fees plus a travel budget of NAf. 497,700 per year. However, after nearly 11 years as a member, there has not been a measurable return on this investment with regards to collaborative opportunities with other Parlatino member countries,” said MP Gumbs on Sunday. “I think that this is an extreme waste of our limited resources, and we would be better suited focusing our efforts closer to home; namely, with countries and territories in the Dutch Caribbean and with the other islands in the Northeastern Caribbean, where we share stronger and more pervasive cultural, social, economic, legal and family ties.”

Although Parliament is considering slashing the Parlatino travel budget in half by limiting the number of MPs that could attend sessions, MP Gumbs believes that the country should instead use these substantial resources to make dedicated and strategic attempts at developing diplomatic relationships within the region.

For example, MP Gumbs proposes that the funds could be used to restart collaborative meetings with the Territorial Council of the Collectivite de Saint Martin, with the ultimate goal of establishing working groups between Parliament’s Permanent Committees and the Committees of the Territorial Council.

“While Parliament and the Territorial Council held a meeting in 2013, there has been no follow-up in 8 years. Though many public sector areas are managed by the French State, there are several key areas under local management, such as taxes,” said MP Gumbs. “As we continue the discussion about tax reform on the Dutch side, it would be beneficial to obtain some insight into how certain levies, including property and consumer taxes, are handled with our neighbors to the North and how we can work together, as legislators, to achieve tax harmonization between both sides.”

Parliament could also use these resources to host more consultative meetings between the Parliaments of Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao.

“At the last Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Consultation (IPKO), many expressed the sentiment that the three countries in the Dutch Caribbean should be in alignment when it comes to our shared challenges. Of course, there is no guarantee that we will always be on the same page, but at least it would help to be reading the same book,” said MP Gumbs. “Each country has its own strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, but we also face similar threats, such as climate change, ever-shifting financial regulations, and human rights crises in our own lands. Whether enhanced relationship development takes the form of additional Tripartite meetings outside of the official IPKO can be determined during the deliberation of this proposal.”

MP Gumbs also noted that Parliament would be better served by joining the parliamentary assemblies of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). However, for this to happen, the Government of Sint Maarten would first have to sign on the country to become an associate member of these bodies. In that regard, MP Gumbs urges the government to clarify its status and position on pursuing these connections.

“It is the PFP faction’s hope that, by establishing these lines of communication and collaboration, it will open up opportunities for greater understanding of how we are intrinsically connected to one another, of how we can support each other both in times of safety and crisis, and how we can maximize the potential of our developing relationships,” concluded MP Gumbs. “The avenues outlined in this proposal can be considered the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when considering expanding our relationships closer to home. St. Barths, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla are also potential doorways that we will be able to access if we take the approach outlined. As the saying goes, there is nothing wrong with living good and talking with your neighbours. Only good things can come out of that.”

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