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Council for Law Enforcement urges better police training

PHILIPSBURG--The Council for Law Enforcement is calling for better training of the Sint Maarten Police Force in a new report it presented to Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson on Monday, March 31.

"In spite of tight budgeting at the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, the St. Maarten Police Force vigorously took up the training of its personnel by offering staff a great number of short-term trainings, courses and workshops in different areas. Additionally, 12 police trainees successfully completed Basic Police Training in 2013," the Council said in a press release announcing the new report.

However, where it concerns the more structural police training, the St. Maarten Police Force is facing a challenge, the Council stated. New employees need to follow basic police training within a short period, and it is necessary for more experienced employees to be given the possibility to catch up with years of backlog in training for management and secondary police functions.

The number of extraordinary police officers ("bavpollers") working for the Police Force clearly has led to more police officers on the streets. However, the Council stresses that the bavpollers' tasks should be limited to specific police tasks. Even though the bavpollers had a very short training and the legal selection standards were not always met, these bavpollers still were accepted in the Police Force and are not limited in their tasks and authorisations.

The Council for Law Enforcement considers it undesirable that this group is given tasks and authorities for which they have not been trained sufficiently. The Council thinks clear selection, education and training requirements should be formulated for the training for "buitengewone agenten van politie."

The Council notes that only NAf. 150,000 has been reserved for training of police on the budget of Country St. Maarten for 2014. The Council wonders whether this amount is sufficient.

The Council urges the Police Force to design a long-term training plan and the Minister of Justice to support the police training plans financially. Given the limited resources, cooperation with other countries – for example, Curaçao and the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – would be the most achievable option to provide new and existing police personnel with training.

In St. Maarten, the training possibilities for the police are insufficient. There is no police school in St. Maarten that offers, for example, basic police training. The Council recommends that a decision must be taken at the soonest opportunity concerning the necessity of a Police Training School. Furthermore, a part of the legislation applicable for police training must be implemented and modernised urgently, so that the requirements with which the training must comply are clear to everyone.

With this report the Council envisages providing an overview of the state of affairs with respect to police education in St. Maarten, contributing to quality improvement of police education and, by extension of this, the professionalism of police education in St. Maarten.

Pursuant to the Kingdom Act on the Council for Law Enforcement, the Minister will be given the opportunity to send the advice of the Council to Parliament within six weeks, along with his policy response. After six weeks the report will be available for publication and downloading at .

The Council for Law Enforcement was established by Kingdom Act in 2011. It is an inter-insular independent body, responsible for the inspection of the various organisations within the Justice System. The ultimate objective is to provide recommendations to the Ministers of Justice of the three countries of the Dutch Kingdom to correct shortcomings.

The Council consists of three members who are appointed by Royal Decree and represent respectively Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands for the islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The Council has a secretariat with offices in St. Maarten, Curaçao and Bonaire.

Concrete agreements at Kingdom Conference

page1a269ARUBA--The Kingdom Conference held in Aruba on Wednesday has yielded several results. An agreement was reached on establishing a taskforce to improve children's rights, to work on more cohesion in the Kingdom and to look into a free trade zone on the islands for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

However, parties could not agree on the dispute arrangement for the Kingdom and this item was moved to the next Kingdom Conference, which will be held in Curaçao in April next year.

The Final Declaration that was signed at the end of the conference stated: "The Conference determines that Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have not reached an agreement with the Netherlands on the working out of a dispute arrangement for the Kingdom and that this subject will in any case be put on the agenda for the next Conference."

Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have been clamouring for a dispute arrangement (geschillenregeling) for several years now, because they want to have an independent body in case of disputes between the countries of a legal and constitutional nature. The Netherlands has not been too keen on establishing such a body.

It was agreed during the previous Kingdom Conference in The Hague in December 2011 that a workgroup would look at the practical aspects of giving content to a dispute arrangement. No consensus was reached in this workgroup.

The four countries did agree with Aruba's proposal to work on more cohesion in the Kingdom by developing initiatives and by building a sort of second layer, a social midfield with the input of social and government organisations.

This should be a strong foundation, also in case the relations within the Kingdom are challenged because of political tension between the countries, explained Conference Chairman Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman.

According to the Final Declaration, a workgroup will be installed under the chairmanship of Aruba that will present concrete proposals to the countries on developing new initiatives and strengthening existing initiatives that should result in more cohesion in the Kingdom. This may include twinning between social and government organisations.

The countries reaffirmed their commitment to continue developing their economic cooperation and the islands' potential as hubs and gateways. The countries agreed to exchange knowhow and expertise in multiple economic areas, including foreign trade, tax treaties, aviation and maritime affairs.

There was also good news for the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The countries agreed to look at the possibilities to implement a free trade zone between these three islands and Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Curaçao will chair a workgroup that will analyse the pros and cons as well as the conditions of this free trade zone.

Delegations talked about the challenges that small island states face. It was agreed to install a workgroup under the chairmanship of Aruba that will come with recommendations on how to deal with the vulnerabilities associated with the small scale of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

As was expected, countries agreed to get moving on the improvement of children's rights. "The Conference finds that every child in the Kingdom has a right to a good youth as meant in the International Treaty on the Rights of the Child. The Conference considers it essential that all relevant sectors in society are involved in this."

A taskforce will be set up with a rotating chairmanship which will have as task to promote the cooperation in the Kingdom relating to children's rights. An action plan will be drawn up by November this year taking into consideration the recommendations of the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF Nederland report about the Dutch Caribbean. The subject will be placed on the agenda of the next Kingdom Conference.

Curaçao and St. Maarten brought up the anchoring of an end date of the Kingdom Consensus Laws in the areas of Finance and Justice (see related article). In the Final Declaration it was stated that the conference took note of this standpoint. It was agreed that this issue will be "explicitly" addressed in the evaluation of the Kingdom Consensus Laws in 2015.

The countries agreed to work out the proposal of the workgroup on movement of persons and goods within the Kingdom to simplify the use of the disembarkation card for Dutch citizens travelling between the countries of the Kingdom and the travelling with an ID card between Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Contract terminated for MPC teacher who spat on student

~ Teacher apologised ~


SOUTH REWARD--The contract for the Milton Peters College (MPC) teacher who spat on a second-form TKL student has been terminated with mutual consent.

The teacher A.A. has also apologised to the school, his colleagues, students and their parents for what has transpired. “This is highly appreciated,” the School Board for Secondary Education SVOBE told teachers in a correspondence on the matter on Tuesday.

The board said the decision to end the contract was made after a thorough investigation and hearing of the students, management, as well as the teacher in question. “The board concluded that the behaviour and remarks of [teacher name mentioned – Ed.] during the incident on Tuesday, March 25, are unacceptable. [The teacher – Ed.] is fully aware of this and, consequently, with mutual consent, it was decided that the contract of [the teacher – Ed.] would be terminated with immediate effect,” the board said in its correspondence.

In consultation with the general director of MPC/Sundial School, the Department Head TKL and the subject teachers, a solution is being sought for the 25 teaching hours that have become available.

The teacher had allegedly spat on a girl student, called her a “wh***” (prostitute), used profanity to describe her and threatened to harm her physically. His action had enraged a number of educators at the institution as well as youth magazine Teen Times. The details of what sparked the incident could not be ascertained.

In the meantime, Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) First Vice-President Claire Elshot said spitting on a student is unacceptable in St. Maarten’s culture, and said a thorough investigation was needed into the matter. She said that, as an educator herself, she understands that there can be issues among both educators and students that can lead to increased frustrations.

‘Abuse of children is a violation of sovereignty’

~ Former UNICEF Director Kastberg to address Kingdom Conference ~

By Suzanne Koelega

ARUBA--True sovereignty of a country is its people and it starts with the arrival of a new child. Raising children in a safe environment is an exercise of sovereignty, which needs to involve everyone, not only government, but the entire community.

This will be the main message of children's rights advocate and former Regional Director Latin America of United Nations Children Fund UNICEF Nils Kastberg during his presentation at the Kingdom Conference in Aruba today, Wednesday. "When children are abused, we attack the sovereignty of countries," he said.

Children's rights in the Dutch Caribbean and how to improve these rights will be one of the major topics of the conference. The 2013 report UNICEF Nederland on children's rights in the Dutch Caribbean was the direct reason for the request of the Dutch Government to put children's rights on the agenda of the 2014 Kingdom Conference.

Kastberg, who was stationed in Panama during his tenure as regional director from 2003 to 2009, will address the issue of violence against children, something that children face everywhere in the world, not only in poor, but also in rich countries, in poor and rich families.

Caribbean and Latin American countries face huge challenges: many young people are engaged in criminal activities, while a serious issue like abuse, physical, mental and sexual is not talked about. "We don't talk about violence at home, but we have to for the best friend of violence is silence," said Kastberg, who originates from Sweden.

An issue that also needs addressing is the role of men and fathers. Fathers are mostly absent in the Caribbean and they don't assume responsibility for their children. "We need role models," said Kastberg, who also pointed out that violence against children is mostly committed by men. "This needs to change. Men have to know that they are wrong."

Having a UNICEF report about the rights of children in the Dutch Caribbean is a first step. "The fact that we have a report is an improvement. We are very pleased with this report; we now have a direction to go. But it will take some time to change."

Kastberg has a lot of know-how in the area of children's rights and the problems that children in the Caribbean face. Kastberg will exchange thoughts with the delegations about ways to improve the living situation of children.

The goal is to get the countries to agree on drafting an action plan for which a coordinator, one per country, would be appointed. This person will work with the different sectors in the community and their leaders. The idea is to organize dialogues on children's rights in the countries.

By November, the initial outline of the action plan would have to be ready so that by February there could be concrete action points, which could then be discussed at the next Kingdom Conference. Kastberg said it would be good to involve an organization or university to guide and monitor the process.

Tackling violence is not only a responsibility of governments, but of the community at large, including parents, teachers and the private sector. "A child needs the support and guidance of the entire community to grow up," said Kastberg. Government should provide a stable, clear policy on this issue.

An international study has shown that violence occurs in five areas: at home, at school, in institutions, in the community through for example gangs, in neighbourhoods and child labour. Most violence takes place at home and school.

High hopes for today’s Kingdom Conference

page1a268ARUBA--Delegations are ready for today's Kingdom Conference in Aruba. The agenda points – the four reports of the work groups, children's rights, cohesion and economic cooperation in the Kingdom – will generate a "spirited discussion," anticipates St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

Wescot-Williams and conference host Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman expect a positive conference where the commitment of the partners in the Kingdom will be reaffirmed.

"I expect that the conference will result in a reaffirmation by the partners to pay close attention to the areas of cooperation," Wescot-Williams told The Daily Herald on Tuesday evening.

"I am very happy that the vision that Aruba and I personally have been advocating for a while now to find common grounds and goals in the Kingdom are really happening," said Eman. Aruba has been at the forefront of pushing cooperation within the Kingdom. Eman said he was glad to note that the other countries now also saw the benefit of working together.

Representatives of the delegations met the entire day on Tuesday to prepare the conference, to set the final agenda and to eliminate as many possible stumbling blocks as possible. Delegation leaders Wescot-Williams, her colleague Ivar Asjes of Curaçao and Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk arrived in Aruba on Tuesday.

An important point for St. Maarten will be the dispute arrangement (geschillenregeling) which the Dutch Caribbean countries want to have installed to solve disputes between the partners in the Kingdom. "Such an instrument is necessary. You need an independent body to look at issues and to give advice. I hope that we will come to some agreement on this," said Wescot-Williams.

On the subject of children rights, Wescot-Williams said her delegation would present an update on the actions St. Maarten has taken in this area. "We are making strides," she said. Asked about the proposed joint action plan to address and improve children rights, she said St. Maarten was always willing to cooperate, as there was "strength in numbers."

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