PHILIPSBURG--A range of issues related to justice and law enforcement were discussed when the four Justice Ministers in the Kingdom met in Curaçao for the Justice Four Party meeting JVO on January 16.
St. Maarten’s interim Justice Minister Egbert Jurendy Doran updated the media on the matters discussed during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday.
Matters falling under the portfolio of the ministers, including organized crime prevention, cross-border law enforcement, border control, the prison system, data sharing and protection, and information technology were among the issues discussed.
Parties discussed the annual plans and budgets of the Joint Court of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Service and other common or shared Justice entities, such as the Kingdom Detectives Cooperation Team RST.
“We were also given an update of the valuable work and progress of the several technical JVO working groups on specific justice issues like improving and strengthening border control, or on improving the (personal) data protection legislation. The latter is especially important to fully and effectively share police and other data between the countries,” Doran said.
“In this regard, it is essential that St. Maarten sets up a Data Protection Commission. This must be an independent and knowledgeable commission, which has to supervise the compliance of government and the private sector with the personal data protection laws.”
New initiatives such as the ‘Restorative Justice’ (herstelrecht) and more meaningful daytime activities for prisoners such as e-learning were also discussed, and will be worked out and more elaborated on by Aruba.
On the issue of information technology, Doran said it is good to know that St. Maarten is again fully associated with IT organisation SBIR, and it is expected that Aruba will shortly follow suit. “This IT organisation will then serve and of course financed by all four Kingdom countries, as was always intended. It was good to hear that the SBIR has accepted and appointed a St. Maarten representative in its Supervisory Board, thus enabling St. Maarten, together with Curaçao and the Netherlands (soon also with Aruba), to co-decide on the deployment of SBIR’s resources, its activities and the long-term vision of IT law enforcement,” Doran said.
“I can also inform you that it has been agreed in the JVO that the Council for Law Enforcement will evaluate the several agreements between Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and Holland that regulate the use of each other’s detention capacity. Before and after the JVO I also had some courtesy bilateral with Justice ministers Girigorie, Grapperhaus and Bikker, also with Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops. These were very amical and informative talks.”
“I can also say that all the ministers were very satisfied with the course and outcome of the JVO-meeting.
These bi-annual meetings to jointly discuss and jointly seek for solutions on the various Justice issues and challenges we have in common are very important. Justice is a chain in which each of the players is as strong as the weakest link. We all are struggling with limited financial means, material and human capacity. To strengthen this chain on a national level and with the sister islands, it is important that we stand united: together we stand strong against the many challenges in the justice chain,” Doran noted.
Since St. Maarten’s 2020 budget was not yet approved, Doran could not yet commit to approving these budgets.
Curaçao Justice Ministers Quincy Girigorie, the host, Netherlands Justice Minister Ferdinand “Fred” Grapperhaus and Aruba Justice Minister Adnin Bikker attended the meeting. The four Ministers of Justice meet and consult each other twice a year – usually in January and July – to strengthen the cooperation at all levels of the Justice field between the countries. The purpose of the meetings is to come to an effective joint and coordinated approach to common matters and issues concerning the criminal justice chain of the four countries, Doran said.