~Wants local politicians to react~
PHILIPSBURG--General Police Union NAPB says it is of the impression that Dutch authorities want St. Maarten to "give up its rights" and "its patriotism" with some of the things it wants to impose on the country.
Union President Ethelwoldus Josepha says local politicians should make their positions clear on the issues that have been developing lately and tell the people of St. Maarten how they plan to affirmatively address these issues.
Josepha said he has been privy to information recently which indicates that the marachaussee only want to perform certain tasks in St. Maarten such as human smuggling, immigration controls and all immigration tasks including at border points such as Princess Juliana International Airport SXM and the Harbour.
"Their idea is that St. Maarten should not have any immigration officers," Josepha told The Daily Herald on Wednesday. "They are of the opinion that none of these tasks should be in the hands of the local police and I have had enough. This will take St. Maarten back 60 years. We will be going backwards. I don't see the reason why they want to take over these things. This will mean that St. Maarten will give up its patriotism and the day that St. Maarten gives up its patriotism; then I don't want to be a St. Maartener anymore."
"Their position is that St. Maarten can't handle immigration. They don't want to be in the police force, they only want to handle the big cases and I want to know where they are getting this authority from. Who is backing them with this? NAPB wants to know the position of local politicians about this. If this is true, we want to know what the politicians think about it and what they will do about it."
Josepha said NAPB has about 20 members who are immigration officers, who are likely to be affected and the union wants answers.
The NAPB President was also concerned about the future screenings of civil servants according to the Dutch terms. He said this was "another game being played" by the Dutch.
"If you read the documentation of what they want, all civil servants from now on would not be able to get a job without first being screened by someone from the Netherlands. The Ministry of Justice will have nothing to do with this. The Dutch will be able to decide that they don't want someone to become a civil servant. I am a local guy and I don't want to give up certain rights. I feel that certain rights are being taken away from St. Maarten when this is done."
He said too that the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST are looking for reasons to stay and operate in St. Maarten, because they are backed by the Dutch.
He said there are about 25 to 35 local detectives working in the Detective Department in St. Maarten. "If you bring in 55 more people and put them in the Detective Department, you've just put the Detective Department in the hands of someone else. You can bring in 100 more persons, but as long as they follow our needs and not theirs, it will be ok. Our priority needs to come first, not theirs. The Ministry of Justice and local police's priorities needs to come first."
Although Justice Minister Dennis Richardson had said recently that the recent leaked document had been shelved, Josepha said he was "still hearing that things are happening in the background. And if we are talking about transparency let's do things transparent so everyone can know what's going on. If this is where they want to go, then make it clear and let everyone know. Let the St. Maarten people decide where they want to go with this. Sometime you should leave sleeping lions sleep."
The NAPB President said the recent moves by the Dutch will spark a reaction from the people of St. Maarten that not even the Dutch will expect. He did not go into details of the reaction to which he had been referring.
"The people of St. Maarten got the government they voted for. Democracy is important. I am asking the Dutch to at least respect who the people voted for. I am no politician and I don't care about the politics of it, but it will have an influence on the police and this is my concern. Give St. Maarten a chance to fix its own business. We need help, then help us, nothing more."
Josepha said he met with the president of the ABVO union earlier this week on these concerns. The two unions share the same opinion on these issues. They plan to meet with Justice Minister Dennis Richardson on these matters before deciding the next course of action.
Josepha said NAPB will also have a meeting with its membership on these concerns soon.