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Justice Academy’s graduates sworn in


Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson (back row, 10th from left) stands proudly with the graduates.

PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson officiated the swearing in and graduation ceremonies of 13 Customs Officers, 15 Immigration and Border Protection Officers and six auxiliary officers from various governmental departments on Tuesday, November 18.

The ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams; Attorney General Taco Stein; Interim Secretary General of Justice Udo Aron; department heads of the various justice departments, department heads of the graduating auxiliary officers, and friends and family members of the graduating class of 2014.

In his presentation, Richardson congratulated all graduates and admonished them to carry out their duties in honour and humility, while respecting the uniform.

The Minister further instructed them to carry out their duties in the service of the people of St. Maarten, and by extension the government and the Ministry of Justice, whilst reminding them to operate within the confines of the law, using persuasion and respectful approach.

He thanked Justice Academy for the successful training of, to date, 135 cadets within the justice chain of law enforcement. Since 10.10.10, the justice sector has been able to offer numerous job opportunities to the young people of St. Maarten.

The Academy was represented by board members Miguel de Weever and Ademar Doran, Coordinator of the Academy Richard Straker, staff members and several trainers.

During the ceremonies the art of self-defence was demonstrated by the cadets under supervision of instructor A. Bell. Swimming instructor Franklyn Carty was also in attendance.

Following the ceremony, all graduates were congratulated by those in attendance in an informal reception held at Belair Community Center.

Robbery foiled by guard, residents

OYSTER POND--A security guard and two residents of Oyster Bay Villas on Oyster Pond Hill foiled a robbery around 1:00am Saturday, a source stated.

The Villas, which have a private entrance with a security guard, are accessible only to residents and approved guests.

When one of the residents pulled up outside the barrier on Saturday morning, the security guard, who works for Aegis NV, came out to check on him. At the same time, a small motorbike pulled up next to the vehicle. As the security guard was checking the occupant of the car; the motorbike rider suddenly pulled out a firearm and shouted “Don’t move.” The security guard was made to kneel down.

The suspect then proceeded to take a laptop out of the resident’s vehicle. At that time, another resident’s car pulled up behind the victim’s vehicle. Two men inside that car saw what was going on, and came out of the car.

This caused the suspect to try to run away. The security guard and the two men who had just arrived tackled the suspect to the ground. The suspect managed to wrestle himself free and ran off, leaving behind his coat, his helmet and his motorbike. He took the firearm with him, but did not manage to take the victim’s property.

The police were called and the bike, helmet and coat were handed over to them. The police are investigating the incident.

Justice Minister, Préfet to meet on officers carrying guns cross-border

SIMPSON BAY--Two out of a group of four Police Aux Frontiers (PAF) officers from French St. Martin were asked by police officers of St. Maarten Police Force to go back to French St. Martin after they were found to have firearms in their possession at SXM Princess Juliana International Airport on Wednesday morning.

The French officers were at the airport in the process of having someone deported. They were asked if they had any permission through the Ministry of Justice to carry their weapons on the Dutch Side. The officers immediately denied having any permission and decided to immediately return to the French side with their weapons, because they did not have the necessary clearance to have their weapons on the Dutch Side.

After finalising the deportation process of the person they brought to the airport, the investigating officers escorted the French officers to their vehicles, which were parked in front of the terminal building.

They noticed that during their absence unknown people had punctured one of the tires of each of the vehicles they were driving. The detectives were immediately informed and arrived at the scene to investigate the situation. After having the tires replaced the officers were escorted the border.

Police officers of either side of the island can only take their firearms to the other side of the island if that has been approved in advance. That was not the case with the PAF officers. The incident was resolved in a friendly manner and the officers left without further problems, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson stated in an invited comment.

Richardson stated that he didn’t want the incident to be pulled out of proportion and said he had requested a meeting with the Préfet later this week to have a discussion, to ensure that the situation does not escalate.

Police chief Peter de Witte was also aware of the situation. “There have been a few small incidents recently, including the incident on St. Maarten Day,” he said. “They were minor incidents. On the whole, we have a very good working relationship with the French authorities. On police level, we will also have a meeting to ensure that both sides are aware of the rules that apply. I am sure that will resolve the matter, and we can continue our good working relationship as we have done before.”

FirstCaribbean reassures clients that information will be protected

PHILIPSBURG--Country Manager of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank St. Maarten Robert Judd reassured customers on Wednesday, that it will maintain a zero tolerance for negligence in handling customer information as the institution moves to outsource certain functions.

“We understand some of our customers may have concerns about the letter as it involves a change. We have been managing customers’ concerns in our branches and through our call centres and we remain accessible to speak with our customers as they contact us,” Judd said in response to several questions from The Daily Herald on Wednesday.

 “We’d like to re-emphasise that the letter was not about a fee increase – any changes to fees have to be approved by our regulators and we must give our customers appropriate notice.”

He said the language contained in the agreement, which is similar to other financial institutions in the region, is designed to bring old customer (pre-2007) agreements up-to-date. “If a customer opened any products with the bank post 2007, they have already agreed to the new agreement. We have always abided by the terms of any agreements between the bank and its customers, and have always given the required 30 days’ notice of any change. This will continue. Any contract between our customers and the bank resides in the jurisdiction in which that contract has been signed and is subject to the laws of that jurisdiction. This also will not change,” he said.

Judd said CIBC FirstCaribbean is made up of a number of legal entities in 17 countries with over 200 years of history in the Caribbean. “The change to the account mandates is simply to update them to allow our individual companies, some of which are located in the same countries as our processing centres, to work together in serving our customers. All customer information will be processed by employees within the group. CIBC FirstCaribbean has always had zero tolerance for any wilful misconduct or negligence in handling customer information - and this will continue,” he stressed.

“As one of the region’s largest employers, CIBC FirstCaribbean remains committed to the Caribbean, as evidenced by our continued investment in the region.”

It is unclear whether the move will result in redundancy of positions in St. Maarten. Regionally, CIBC FirstCaribbean clients have received notice of outsourcing of particular functions and changes to conditions. An article by Nation News dated November 14, said the bank was “about to hit thousands of its customers with a dramatic change in their relationship.” Customers reportedly received notice that the bank would “outsource all lending, account and client information from all its banks in the region to third parties in another country, who will now be processing it.”

In addition, the bank said it wanted to change all the contractual arrangements that clients originally had signed to allow the bank to “unilaterally change any of the terms of [your] account opening agreement or any other of its agreement with [you] applicable to interest rates, fees, charges, or overdraft limits at any time in the future; and such changes will be deemed to have been unequivocally accepted by [you].”

The article further quoted a letter concerning fees signed by Managing Director for Retail, Wealth, Business and International Banking Mark St. Hill: “The bank may change applicable fees, charges, overdraft limits at any time in the future and notify [you] by any means of public or private notification.” After 30 days, changes will have been deemed “unequivocally accepted” by customers.

Jean Rostand class wins overseas competition




 Jean Rostand School and Hervé Williams 1 pupils were presented with awards for the “Les Petites Artistes de la Memoire” competition from President François Hollande at the Élysee Palace on November 11


MARIGOT--The Jean Rostand Primary School CM2 class recently celebrated winning the regional category of the overseas territories competition “Les Petites Artistes de la Memoire.”

The eighth edition of the competition consisted of portraying a local veteran of World War I from a child’s perspective. The class chose George Richardson and researched this local hero for an entire school year, compiling archive material and photos of him to chronicle his journey.

Their work was sent to the National Veterans Association jury, which declared it the “Coup de Coeur” of the competition.

Ambassadors Mariama Tyson from St. Martin and her former teacher Audrey Kooi were privileged to receive the first place award on behalf of the school from President François Hollande himself in the Elysée Palace on Tuesday, November 11.

In addition they each received a personal invitation to the memorial at the Arc de Triomphe and to the inauguration of the international memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette.

Second place went to the Hervé Williams School 1 CM1A class, which received an honourable artistic mention. All their work and literature will be donated to St. Martin’s Veterans Association and the public library.

The Jean Rostand class visited the Collectivité’s registry to see George Richardson’s original birth paper and contacted his family that lives in New York for firsthand information, to prepare their project.

Their work was compiled in a book, with the first and second pages handwritten and illustrated by Mariama. In it are illustrations of Richardson’s parents, his departure for war and how they lived during the war in the trenches. The class also discovered the song “l’Hymn Creole” that cheered on the French Caribbean soldiers.

This book will be scanned into the archives of the National Veterans Association before returning to St Martin. The class was glad to have participated in such an experience and to have won!
Mariama, describing her trip to meet the President, said: “It was like a dream. I met François Hollande who greeted me personally. From there we visited Le Musée des Invalides to view the tomb of Napoleon. It was fun.”

Both schools have displayed their work in the lobby of Hotel de La Collectivité for the observance of Armistice Day.

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