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Minister of Justice Richardson launches Justice Sector Essay Contest

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In an effort to introduce secondary students to the criminal justice sector on Sint Maarten, the Honorable Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson, has invited secondary schools to participate in the Justice Sector Essay Contest which aims to encourage students to pursue a career in the criminal justice field.

The criminal justice system is any organization that is directly involved in apprehending, prosecuting, defending, sentencing, and punishing those who are suspected or convicted of criminal offenses. The system ripples through the community from top to bottom and is interconnected in ways that affects a large percentage of the population daily. It is comprised of multiple interrelated organizations including law enforcement, the courthouse, correctional institutions, public prosecutors, and defense lawyers. The system is designed to deliver justice for all by protecting the innocent, deterring and mitigating crime, sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts, but most importantly providing a fair and just process to help maintain order across the country.

Although the criminal justice system is of great importance for the functioning of our society, the influx of local professionals into this field is quite meagre. To provoke the interests of students on Sint Maarten and encourage them to broaden their career perspective to include professions in the criminal justice sector, Minister Richardson introduces this written assignment in which students are asked to write an essay from the perspective of professionals in the justice sector. The objective for the students is to place themselves in one of the positions of, for example the Minister of Justice or the Chief of police and describe 3 major things they would like to accomplish holding that position. 

The Justice Sector Essay Contest will allow students to be creative. It is an interactive way to get students better acquainted with the criminal justice system and spark their interests. The winners will be selected by the justice department heads based on general grading criteria. The prizes will include, amongst other things, spending a working day with the professional the winning students chose to write about.

This initiative will be rolled out in the secondary schools accordingly. The Minister of Justice invites the representatives of the secondary schools (grade 9 and up) who have not yet been invited, to contact the below email address if interested in their students participating in this initiative. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to submit your questions to the below email address as well.

Email-address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Committee of Parliamentary Inquiry Mullet Bay Reports to Parliament on its Operations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On March 15, 2021 the Committee Parliamentary Inquiry Mullet Bay submitted a report on the operations of the Committee to Parliament thus far, in accordance with article 88 of the Rules of Order for Parliament.

Article 2 of the National Ordinance Parliamentary Inquiry stipulates that the Parliament, on the initiative of one or more Members, can decide to hold a Parliamentary inquiry. This Parliamentary inquiry is then executed by a Committee of Parliament.

In its Public meeting of November 5, 2019 Parliament approved the proposal received on August 13, 2019 by Members of Parliament Rolando Brison, Frans G. Richardson, Christophe T. Emmanuel, Silveria E. Jacobs, Egbert J. Doran, Ardwell M.R. Irion and William V. Marlin to conduct a Parliamentary inquiry into Mullet Bay. A Committee Parliamentary Inquiry Mullet Bay was established on December 12, 2019.

This is the first time in the young history of Country Sint Maarten, that a parliamentary inquiry has been initiated.

In accordance with article 88, paragraph 1, of the Rules of Order for the Parliament of Sint Maarten, in a letter dated March 15, 2021, the Committee Parliamentary Inquiry Mullet bay updated Parliament on the proceedings of the Committee thus far.

In its report the committee informed Parliament of the preparatory work that was needed to allow the Committee to function adequately. This includes the appointment of a Research Coordinator who, together with the Secretary General of the Committee, will guide the research process. The Committee also held its first official meeting during which a working method was established in accordance with the National Ordinance Parliamentary Inquiry and the proposal for the inquiry.  

In its report, the Committee also notified Parliament, that considering the current financial situation of Country Sint Maarten, the Committee has decided to scale back on the number of staff needed for the Parliamentary Inquiry.  

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ST. DOMINIC HIGH SCHOOL IBO OFFERS CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP

SINT MAARTEN (SOUTH REWARD) - To write creatively is to illustrate with words; and to illustrate with words, one must be able to articulate what they envision in their own imagination. A few students of the St. Dominic High School opted to challenge themselves to undertake the aforementioned through a creative writing workshop, which was facilitated and headed by Mr. Nelly Blaise, an established author hailing from Sint Maarten with humble and cultured origins from Hispaniola (Haiti-Dominican Republic territory).

Blaise has gracefully taken on the role of an exemplar, inspiring and guiding those of the younger generation who have taken an interest in the art of giving words a more vivid familiarity, which helps to enthrall audiences and keep them engaged throughout the work.

Primarily, the students of the International Baccalaureate Programmed (IBO) volunteered to participate in the workshop presented by Blaise and his team; where he expounded on his experiences, gave us a perspective on his journey with creating his own written pieces, and demonstrated several concepts he learned and developed into his own style of writing.           

Nelly Blaise is the author of ‘The Origins of Kushobi’, a piece that he had developed as documentation of historical background and its significance to his identity. The author shared personal insight into his self-discovery which led to his inspiration for his storyline, which is based on the science of African and Indigenous cultures, enriched with influences of Egyptian mythology and the history of the Benin Kingdom.

The researched and informative style of the book is complemented in the Japanese style anime which aids in conveying the storytelling aspect in an interactive and alluring manner that will relate with modern audiences. The context of the work entails a variety of concepts that are regarded as unconventional topics outside that of folkloric tales, such as ‘voodoo and cosmic energy’. The story incorporates the rise and downfall of a man of divine favour, with several supporting minor plots, backstories and characters that give the book literary and cultural diversity.

In an attempt to integrate what he has taught into a applicable manner for the students to actively exercise and be involved in, Blaise has cleverly, and creatively created a murder-mystery scenario that incorporates relevant trends here on the island of St. Maarten. From this the volunteers for the workshop from the IB classes, and community service volunteers for the interactive activity from St. Dominic High School, were able to play a role in pulling together the final product of the experience.

From here on, us IB students were able to utilize the information afforded to us, to develop creative writing pieces of our own, for which we later received insightful feedback. “Personally I enjoyed writing a work of fiction using characters inspired by pop culture and mainstream mass media; these of which influence the turn of events in the world that affects me and those around me. Additionally, I felt quite liberated to express myself in a manner that was preservative of my identity, thoughts, ideas, and experiences” said Sarah Sheriff of her workshop experience.

As a progressing author on a journey to master his craft, Blaise has clearly understood and benefitted from creative writing, and has since aimed to reinforce these positive influences in the youth amongst which he grew up, a motivation for what he has accomplished so far, and a representation of his younger self that he may always remember.

Mr. Blaise brought a meaningful closure to the creative writing workshop experience by gifting the students with an autographed copy of his book ‘The Origins of Kushobi’ and his closing remarks: “I would like to firstly thank Ms. Arlene Halley, Mrs. Maartje de Groot and Mr. Jonathan van Arneman for the opportunity to give a creative writing workshop to the students of St. Dominic IB Year.

A big ‘thank you’ to St. Dominic high school for their support. I would like to thank the students who taught me about the astonishing academicians they are, I was moved by their level of intellectual capacity. I am convinced St. Maarten’s future is bright and prosperous and I will continue to assist guiding the youth of St. Maarten with Arts, Culture, Sports and Education.”

st dom no certificate

st dom frpg books in hand

 

 

 

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USM to Hold Virtual Lecture on Workers’ and Human Rights

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In a follow up to previous Human Rights webinars held during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of St. Martin (USM) and the Sint Maarten Anti-poverty Platform (SMAPP) will co-sponsor a virtual lecture on How to Address Workers’ and Human Rights Violations on Wednesday, 24 March 2021. The keynote speaker will be former Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA) Mrs. Pamela Gordon Carty, who will address labour and human rights violations experienced throughout the pandemic and present options for remedying the local situation.

Since March 2020, Sint Maarten’s single pillar economy was hit badly by the COVID 19 pandemic. Many formal and informal jobs were lost, as travel bans were put in place to stop the spread of the virus. Schools and hotels were closed for months, and tens of thousands of workers have lost employment. According to the Red Cross, large segments of the population still depend on food donations from charities today, a year after the pandemic started.

“It is in this context that we will evaluate the state of labour rights and human rights for the employed and unemployed workers, seniors and pensioners in Sint Maarten”, said SMAPP Co-ordinator Raymond Jessurun. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, labour and human rights were never really respected. However, the pandemic contributed to an increase in violation of workers’ rights and human rights in many countries in the world and also here in St. Martin. The United Nations has recommended all States and their political and economic leaders to safeguard human rights, which are guaranteed under treaties and conventions constituting international public law.”

In June 2020, USM and SMAPP held a full day online webinar on the topic of human rights in the face of COVID-19. The purpose of the seminar was to create a space for dialogue to inform the community of the obligations of the State and its political and economic actors. Later, in October 2020, USM in partnership with the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-NJCM) led a Kingdom-wide dialogue on the topic of Human Rights with participants from Curaçao, Aruba, the Netherlands, St. Martin and the United States.

In an effort to contribute to the education of civil society in matters related to socio-economic development and human rights, USM continues to serve as that space for critical dialogue and discussion. Invited guest, Mrs. Gordon Carty will review national, state and international spaces to present human rights violations and to claim respect for these rights.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, USM can host only a select number of representatives of the Chamber of Labour Unions and the Sint Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association. Via Zoom Meeting ID: 822 0095 0604

Passcode: USM2021 and a live stream on Facebook, the members of these affiliated organisations and the public-at-large can follow the one and half hour lecture followed by a question-and-answer session open to viewer participation. The virtual lecture will begin promptly at 7:00 in the evening.

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Gasoline price to be adjusted on Wednesday. Diesel remains unchanged

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Wednesday, March 24th, fuel pump prices will be adjusted for gasoline. 

The current price of unleaded gasoline is Naf.2.010 per liter, will be adjusted to the new price of Naf.2.115 per liter.

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.587 per liter, remains unchanged.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

At the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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Minister of VSA conducts site visits at three water plants

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday, March 17, 2021, The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), Richard Panneflek, accompanied by his Legal Advisor Lyndon Lewis, had a work visit to the three water plants on St. Maarten that are in the areas of Point Blanche, Cay Bay and Cupecoy.

In preparation of the agreement with the Water production company Seven Seas, the Minister of VSA was briefed on the operations of water production and the status of the different water plants by Franklin Richards and the staff of Seven Seas.  

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18 years sentence for shooter in absentia

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) - The Court in the First Instance on March 18, 2021, sentenced A.S.R. in absentia to 18 years imprisonment for manslaughter in the shooting death of C.F. and the attempted manslaughter of R.R. on March 18, 2014, in Dutch Quarter, the Public Prosecution Service (OM SXM) said in a press statement on Thursday.

“The shooter was tried in absentia, because he is imprisoned in the Commonwealth of Dominica for armed robbery. This verdict means that A.S.R., a French citizen, will be arrested and imprisoned should he return to Sint Maarten after completing his sentence(s) in Dominica. A.S.R. was tried in absentia after several attempts were made by the Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM to have him extradited to Sint Maarten.

“Dominica could not comply with the request, because there exists no extradition treaty between the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Sint Maarten) and the Commonwealth of Dominica. And, A.S.R. refused to be transported to Sint Maarten to stand trial in person. C.F. was shot multiple times while sitting in a car in Dutch Quarter.

“The shots were allegedly aimed at her boyfriend R.R. After the shooting, the shooter and his (then) co-suspects went into hiding, fled the country and turned up on Dominica, where they immediately committed an armed robbery on a jeweler for which they are still detained on that island.

“OM SXM sees the sentence in this violent crime as reinforcement that criminals who believe fleeing the country to escape justice are very misguided in their assumption. The sentence of 18 years, issued on March 18, 2021, for the crimes committed on March 18, 2014, is justice served.

“However, OM SXM understands that the sentence cannot erase the profound loss of the C.F.’s family, but hopes it will aid with closure.”

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SMCC: Sint Maarten Consumers confronted with increasing debt

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The CFT Committee for Financial Supervision in its latest quarterly bulletin informed that the accumulated public debt of St Maarten on December 31, 2020 has increased to 1232 million ANG (or 1.2 billion ANG) and is now at 67% of gross domestic product, the Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) said in a press statement.

“The budget deficit from 2020 was 197 million ANG, which was 66 million less than the 263 million ANG which was budgeted.

“The maximum debt allowed by the Kingdom government for St Maarten is 186 million ANG. In other words, the 2020 deficit of the budget of St Maarten was 11 million ANG more than the norm established by the Kingdom Law on Financial Supervision.

“175 million ANG liquidity support of the Netherlands was provided as a loan, which has to be paid back by the St Maarten consumers next year 2022.

“When do the ST Maarten consumers have to pay this huge accumulated debt of 1.2 billion ANG?

With 94% of the households in St Maarten already having a hard time to survive with less than 5000 ANG a month, the proposed tax reform in the country package towards indirect taxes (such as increasing TOT to a sales tax from 12.5%) will become another daylight robbery on the small man.

“In a subsequent broadcast we will expound in a little more detail about this accumulated debt and who has to pay this bill,” the SMCC statement concludes.

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STAT: Prices up from last quarter (0.89%) and up from last year (1.65%)

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Sint Maarten in the 4 th Quarter of 2020 is 102.09. This represents an increase of 0.89 percent, when compared to that of 3 rd Quarter 2020, the Department of Statistics (STAT) said in a press statement on Friday.

When comparing the consumer prices from the same period 12 months previously (4 th Quarter 2019 to 4 th Quarter 2020), an increase of 1.65 percent was recorded.

Quarter-to-Quarter Percentage Change: Comparing 2020 Q3 with 2020 Q4

For the 4 th Quarter 2020, prices in seven of the twelve expenditure categories recorded increases while five decreased in price when compared to the 3 rd Quarter 2020. The increases were in the categories: ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ (+0.23%), ‘Clothing and footwear’ (+1.45%), ‘Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ (+2.22%), ‘Communication’ (+2.10%), ‘Education’ (+0.33%), ‘Restaurants and hotels’ (+0.03%) and ‘Miscellaneous goods and services’ (+1.70%). Decreases were seen in the following categories: ‘Alcoholic beverages, tobacco & narcotics’ (-0.44%), ‘Furnishings, household equipment and maintenance’ (-0.16%), ‘Health’ (-1.39%), ‘Transport’ (-1.42%) and ‘Recreation and culture’ (-2.73%).

Based on the latest Household Budget Survey, the following four categories have the largest percentage weight (influence) of the Total CPI: Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (36.1%), Transport (14.6%), Miscellaneous goods and services (13.4%) and Food and nonalcoholic beverages (7.2%).

For Food and non-alcoholic beverages, the cost of the subcategory ‘Food’ went up by 0.35 percent. This was mainly due to the increase in the prices of milk, cheese and eggs (+1.85%), fruit (+3.82%), vegetables (+1.03%), and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery (+1.15%). However, prices in the subcategory ‘Non-alcoholic beverages’ decreased by 0.45 percent. This was driven by a decrease (-0.61%) in the prices of mineral water, soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices.

The change in the price of Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels was influenced by an increase in the price level of the subgroups: ‘Actual rentals for housing’ (+5.67%), ‘Maintenance and repair of the dwelling’ (+1.71%) and ‘Electricity, gas and other fuels’ (+0.32%). The latter subgroup was driven by an increase in the price of electricity (+0.37%).

For this quarter, in the categories where there were decreases, the price for Transport was largely impacted by the subgroups: ‘Purchase of vehicles’ (-1.99%) and ‘Transport services’ (-4.40%). The decrease in the price level of ‘Transport services’ was driven by passenger transport by road (-2.96%) and passenger transport by air (-7.40%).

The prices in the category Miscellaneous goods and services increased largely because of price level increases in the subcategories: ‘Personal care’ (+3.64%) and ‘Personal effects n.e.c1 ‘ (+2.73%). The former subgroup was driven by price increases in electrical appliances (+5.43%) and other appliances, articles and products for personal care (+4.88%).

Note, the increased prices in three of the major expenditure categories and in four of the other categories caused the overall increase in the CPI from Quarter 3 to Quarter 4.

Year-on-Year Percentage Change (Inflation): Comparing 2019 Q4 with 2020 Q4

The prices of 4 th Quarter 2020 have increased when compared to those of 4 th Quarter 2019. The inflation rate recorded is 1.65 percent. This rise in prices for the 12-month period was largely due to increases in the household expenditure categories: ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ (+2.52%), ‘Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ (+5.48%), ‘Health’ (+1.68%), ‘Restaurants and hotels’ (+1.84%), ‘Communication’ (+2.85%) and ‘Miscellaneous goods and services’ (+3.40%).

For the four expenditure categories with the highest weight on the Total CPI, the prices went up in three of these categories, when compared to the same period in 2019. As mentioned previously ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ increased 2.52 percent. This was mainly due to the rise in food prices in 4 th Quarter 2020 compared to 4 th Quarter 2019. In addition, prices in the category ‘Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels’ as well as the category ‘Miscellaneous goods and services’, also increased. On the contrary, the cost of ‘Transport’ decreased by 5.09 percent.

Note, the increased prices in three of the major expenditure categories and in five of the other categories caused the overall increase in the inflation rate.

Annual Averages for 2020

The CPI average of quarters 1 to 4 of 2020 is 101.11, compared to the average of 100.39 for 2019. For inflation, the annual average is 0.71 percent, compared to 0.39 percent which was the average in 2019.

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Statia builds additional assisted living homes

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Five additional assisted living homes and five emergency homes will be built on Statia. This is to alleviate the housing shortage and to provide families with temporary housing. The groundbreaking for the first home is scheduled for next week.

With the realization of these new homes, housing opportunities will be provided for elderly and disabled persons within the community. The additional homes will be constructed adjacent to the ten existing assisted living homes at the Felicia Viola van Zanten Complex in Lodi.

Inventory

An inventory by the Social Domain Department in May 2020 confirms that the demand for housing on the island is high. Following the inventory, the Felicia Viola van Zanten Complex was built. These homes are now occupied by four tenants. 

Large number

A large number of Statian residents are eligible for social housing. Approximately 102 persons are currently on the waiting list.

The tendering process to build the living homes and emergency homes was executed in accordance with the tendering protocol. IBS was selected and will join forces with Merkies Construction.

“We are proud of this development and look forward to many more joint efforts. It is important that we to continue to strengthen our community,” says Alida Francis, Deputy Government Commissioner.

The contract for the execution of the project was signed on Monday, March 8th, 2021. This project is financed by the Ministries of Social Affairs and Public Health. (Statia GIS)

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