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Sept 30 is deadline to apply for Brooks Tower extension

PHILIPSBURG--With one week left, most Brooks Tower Accord (BTA) permit-holders have applied for extensions in the past eight weeks, head coordinator Tiara Haselhoef reported Wednesday.

Central Government workers are awaiting the last 700 of more than 4,000 persons who are now legal residents thanks to the BTA.

BTA recipients have until next week Thursday, September 30, to apply at the Salvation Army for a three-year extension to remain in St. Maarten. The Central Government plans to end its work here officially on Friday, October 8, leaving the first government of Country St. Maarten to decide on the procedure for anyone who hasn't applied already.

"It is better that they come now and apply before September 30," Haselhoef said. More than 3,300 persons have applied for papers to stay, accounting for 82.3 per cent of permit-holders.

All BTA permits become invalid on November 3. Anyone who hasn't applied for and received the extension, or who no longer complies with the basic requirements of valid health insurance and ID, can be repatriated.

Central Government workers have been processing applications at the Salvation Army nearly every weekday since Monday, August 2. The Justice Ministry originally had planned to stop last week Saturday, September 18, but citing slow applications early on, decided instead to extend the application period until the end of the month. Less than 25 per cent of BTA permit-holders had applied when the decision was made.

Workers at the police station prepare the permits daily. Only 671 persons have collected theirs, while another 700 remain for collection. Haselhoef said close to 1,000 permits remained unsigned at the Lt. Governor's office.

Permit-holders can visit the Post Office or the Immigration and Naturalisation Department building to determine whether their permits are ready.

The Brooks Tower Accord was launched in 2009 in the hopes of legalising most undocumented residents – primarily the ones who have been here longest. Antillean Justice Minister Magali Jacoba praised the project later as bringing thousands "out of the darkness" of illegality.

However, critics nearly sank BTA, warning undocumented persons that it was merely a trap to register and then get rid of them. Only persons who didn't qualify for either Category I (those who arrived before 2002) or Category II (those who arrived between 2002 and 2005) were repatriated.

Minister Jacoba announced her planned extension in July, offering a less stringent way to bring the thousands of BTA recipients into the regular system in phases. She hoped to make them citizens, with permanent residence, after they had proved they could stay legal residents for the three years. Some applicants, students in particular, only received one-year extensions.

St. Maarten's first Council of Ministers will have to decide whether to uphold the minister's policy in 2013.

Jacoba is scheduled to visit St. Maarten next week, probably for the last time as a Central Government minister, for talks about the island taking over BTA.

Shooting victim’s widow detained for questioning

BETTY'S ESTATE--Police arrested the widow of Eduardo "Oggy" Gumbs (39) Tuesday after they found him dead of gunshot wounds outside his Betty's Estate home.

Prosecutor Rienk Mud confirmed the arrest Wednesday, saying the woman remained in police custody up to late afternoon. He refused to say more than that she was being held for questioning, explaining that anything else "would be releasing information too early."

He insisted that the woman's arrest neither implicated nor exonerated her of guilt in Gumbs' death. Sources said the couple had been followed and gunmen had waited until she left the vehicle to open fire.

Police released a short press statement Tuesday afternoon, reporting only that Gumbs had been found dead near his Gardenia Road residence inside his Jeep Cherokee. Other details, like the widow's arrest, were left out. "That, for the time being, says it all," said Mud, maintaining that he couldn't say more about the investigation.

He was the on-duty prosecutor on the scene when the crime was called in about 3:00am.

Gumbs' shooting death is the sixth official homicide on the Dutch side for 2010. Police are requesting that anyone with information come forward to help catch his killer(s).

‘Continued support for new countries’

 Page1C109Queen Beatrix assures in Queen's Speech 

THE HAGUE--The Dutch Government will continue to support Curaçao and St. Maarten, stated Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in the annual Queen's Speech (Troonrede) on Tuesday.

The Queen's Speech, written by the Dutch cabinet, dedicated one paragraph to Kingdom relations. "Preparations have been made to realise new constitutional relations in the Kingdom. The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist as a country within the Kingdom. Curaçao and St. Maarten will each obtain the status of country.

"The island territories Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will become part of the Dutch Constellation as public entities. Curaçao and St. Maarten can count on continuous support of the Dutch Government in the area of maintenance of law and order and good governance," stated the Queen in her speech on the occasion of Budget Day (Prinsjesdag) in The Hague.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK stated in a press release that 2011 would be the year of executing the new constitutional relations in the Kingdom. "2011 is the year of further execution of agreements that have been made and the implementation of the legislation," it was stated in a press release.

"The Netherlands will support the new countries in the functioning of the new country organisations. Plans of approach have been drafted for those parts of the governments which insufficiently function on the transition date of October 10, 2010. The execution of the plans of approach in principle covers a period of a maximum of two years. The focus in 2011 is on the implementation of the plans of approach," it was stated.

As for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the press release stated that Dutch Government has taken over the role of the Antillean Government. "This means that members of the Dutch cabinet will take responsibility for their various policy areas on the islands."

Aruba and the Netherlands have agreed on a joint agenda to realise improvements in the coming years in the areas of maintenance of law and order, quality of life in Oranjestad and legislation.

The investigation into the state of affairs of Aruba's Government will be concluded early 2011. "Based on the results of this investigation, it will be determined whether further measures are needed and in which areas. This doesn't take away the fact that improvement of the immigration chain and the Aruban Police Force needs to continue forcefully. This is primarily a task of the Aruban Government. This also goes for the country's worrisome financial situation. Aruba's Government is working on improving this."

The new constitutional relations in the Kingdom require a new vision on the Kingdom. "A vision in which a clear interpretation of the guarantee function as stated in the Charter is important," it was stated. In 2011, a document on a long-term vision will be presented to the Second Chamber.

Countries St. Maarten, Curaçao to handle civil code amendments

page3a109PHILIPSBURG--The Central Committee of Parliament on Tuesday decided to put the handling of the law proposals to amend the Civil Code in the hands of the Parliaments of new countries St. Maarten and Curaçao.

The committee was scheduled to handle some nine amendments during its meeting in St. Maarten on Tuesday; however, this was objected to by several members, including National Alliance (NA) parliamentarians Rodolphe Samuel and George Pantophlet.

Pantophlet told The Daily Herald after the meeting in the Dr. A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall that these changes can have far-reaching consequences for the islands and it is best that they be handled by the parliaments of the new countries.

Couples that have been living together for ten or more years are set to get the same rights as married couples, which was one of the proposals geared towards modernising the Civil Code.

Parliament President Pedro Atacho said the Central Committee meets again today at 9:00am to discuss an amendment to the stamp ordinance and an amendment to the notary law to allow the acceptance of copies of notary deeds that have been lost between 1980 and 1997 at the Tax Office in Willemstad.

The Justice Committee of Parliament will also have a working visit at the Coast Guard at 3:00pm today.

Tomorrow, Thursday the Justice Committee will discuss the concept report regarding aggression and criminality among youngsters in the Windward Islands and Bonaire.

Man shot to death in SUV

page1b109PHILIPSBURG--St. Maartener Eduardo "Oggy" Gumbs (39) was found shot to death in the vicinity of his home on Gardenia Road in Betty's Estate Tuesday morning around 3:00am.

Police were alerted to the incident and dispatched to the location where they found Gumbs motionless in the driver's seat of his grey Jeep Cherokee. Based on the investigation carried out by detectives on the scene, apparently gunshots were fired at Gumbs while he was driving his SUV, fatally wounding him.

The police doctor pronounced Gumbs dead on the scene. Judge of Instruction C. Luijks and Prosecutor Rienk Mud were also on the scene.

Police spokesperson Inspector Ricardo Henson noted that the investigation into this incident was in its early stages; therefore, the motive and who might be involved in Gumbs' murder were still unknown.

Police are asking anyone who may have information that could shed light on the case to contact the police post-haste.

Gumbs was convicted for involvement in the murder of a Jamaican national back in 2000. A rip deal had gone wrong and as a result the Jamaican man was shot dead in the vicinity of Donchie's Bakery on Back Street. Gumbs was imprisoned for six to seven years for that incident.

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