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Soualiga Newsday Focus (2696)

Urging end to ‘delaying' tactics, UN rights experts call for fairness in Guatemala’s genocide trial

AMERICAS – United Nations experts on genocide prevention and transitional justice called on Guatemalan judicial authorities to “prevent any further attempt at interference, obstruction of justice or manipulation of the law,” when the genocide trial against the country’s former de facto Head of State, and the former chief of intelligence resumes in January 2016.

“The delaying strategies, abusive use of judicial recourses and alleged threats and pressure against judges and prosecutors working on the case that have characterized the genocide trial, reveal significant flaws in the administration of justice in Guatemala,” said a joint statement by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff.

This statement is endorsed by the President of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary, Ariel Dulitzky, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Juan Méndez and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mónica Pinto.

Their appeal comes as a Guatemalan court decided to restart, in January 2016, the trial against former de facto Head of State, José Efraín Ríos Montt, and former chief of intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.

According to the statement, the two men are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for human rights violations committed against the Mayan Ixil population between 1982 and 1983. Reports estimate that 200,000 persons were killed or disappeared during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala (1960-1996).

“Time is critical,” the experts said. “The decision to schedule the new hearing for January 2016, does not reflect the decisive prioritization that the case merits. The defendants, witnesses and victims are all getting older. Two witnesses have passed away. Victims only ask to see that justice is served before they die.”

The human rights experts raised questions about the court’s decision, based on Mr. Ríos Montt’s mental health condition, to order the application of special procedures, which includes representation by a legal guardian and hearings held behind closed doors.

They said it is unclear why these procedures will apply to both defendants, while only Mr. Ríos Montt was found unfit.

“Denying victims and their families the right to justice by further delays and postponement of the trial will perpetuate feelings of frustration and discrimination,” the statement said. “Guatemala still needs to transform a culture of impunity into a culture in which the truth is told and individuals are held accountable, whoever they are. Impunity destroys the social fabric and perpetuates mistrust. A fragmented society is a society that cannot live in peace.”

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WINAIR: Cancels all flights for Thursday, suspends some on Wednesday

SIMPSON BAY, SXM AirportDue to the imminent threat of tropical storm Erika we are informing the public that Wednesday August 26, 2015 WINAIR will be operating a normal flight schedule, except for:

WM049 St. Maarten – Tortola which is suspended,
WM355 (afternoon flight) St. Maarten – Nevis is suspended,
WM541-542 St. Maarten – St. Eustatius –St. Maarten is retimed 
1745-1805-1815-1835.

All flights on Thursday August 27, 2015 will be canceled and WINAIR expects to resume normal flight operations Friday August 28, 2015, weather permitting.

If your flight is canceled, please call or email WINAIR reservations at +1 721 545-4237 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You will be accommodated on flights subject to availability. WINAIR’s Storm policy will be in effect allowing re-accommodation at no cost to the customer.

We urge you to take all safety precautions and stay safe and secure during this weather. WINAIR realizes the inconvenience caused and will continue to do our best to serve you.

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NV GEBE researches alternative energy options. Results expected later this year

SINT MAARTEN – At a recent press conference, NV GEBE’s Chief Financial Officer Rene Gartner says the company is looking into alternative energy by carrying out an assessment.  The results of the assessment are expected during the fourth quarter of 2015 (October-November).  The results of the assessment will be presented to the board of supervisory directors. 

The assessment will be looking at trends and developments in fuel, engines and alternative energy options (solar, wind, geothermal, waste to energy).  The introduction of alternative energy is expected to lead to a reduction in costs and further improve services to the community.

One of the options being explored for alternative energy is using government buildings and the power plant at Cay Bay.

An area that needs to be regulated is solar energy with respect to the relationship between private users and the public grid system of NV GEBE.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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Prime Minister Gumbs meets with St. Martin Prefete Laubies regarding preparations for Hurricane Danny

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, on Friday afternoon met with the Prefete of St. Martin and St. Barths Anne Laubies and Vice President Guillaume Arnell regarding preparations for Hurricane Danny. 

The Prefete and the Prime Minister briefed each other on the preparations that have been taken so far in preparation for Hurricane Danny.

A number of points were agreed upon with respect to the coordination and synchronization of certain activities in times of pre- and post-natural disaster events.

After each Emergency Operations Center or Disaster Committee meeting, the government representatives will exchange decisions that have come out of those meetings.

The closure of businesses was also another point to be coordinated between both sides of the island; closure of airports will also be coordinated; and both sides will also exchange communications that are disseminated to the public with respect to information and actions that need to be taken.

“The meeting with the Prefete was very informative.  As one island there should be some coordination at the disaster management level and this was what this meeting was about,” Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs said on Friday.

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“PIJ-measure” to be executed at Miss Lalie Center

CAY BAY - At a court session behind closed doors, a 14-year old suspect has been sentenced to a so-called “PIJ-measure” (Placement in a Young Offender Institution) for a period of two years, according to the demand of the youth prosecutor.

Part of the file were psychiatric and psychological evaluations and a report from the Court of Guardianship about the suspect. It’s the first time in Sint Maarten that this “PIJ-measure” has been executed.

The PIJ-measure is possible based on the new Criminal Code that went into effect on the 1st of June 2015. The PIJ-measure is the heaviest criminal measure for minors and can be imposed on suspects between the ages 12 to 18 years.

It can be compared to the so called TBS-measure for adults and is therefore sometimes called “youth-TBS”. The main goals of the PIJ-measure are treatment and re-education, with a focus on preventing the act from happening again.

The PIJ-measure can be prolonged until a maximum of six years. The PIJ-measure will be executed at the Miss Lalie Center, the closed youth facility on Sint Maarten.

In January the judge will evaluate the progression of the measure. (Public Prosecution Service Sint Maarten)

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Social Affairs and Labor meet Saba Statia stakeholders

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The RCN Unit of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW) met with stakeholders on Saba and St. Eustatius on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The meetings were held in the form of workshops for entrepreneurs and dealt with the following subjects; labor affairs, the labor market, reimbursement, work and residency permit and collective wage sheet. The objective of this workshop was to offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive firsthand information regarding the labor processes and to pose questions they may have regarding labor and employment matters.  

The representatives of the Unit of Social Affairs and Labor were joined by colleagues from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the Tax Office (BCN) and the Labor Mediator for St. Eustatius and Saba, Mr. Rafael Boasman. On Statia the department of labor also participated. On Saba some fifteen business operators were in attendance.

On St. Eustatius the participation was registered at thirty companies.

Head of RCN Unit of Social Affairs and Labor, Margreth, de Groot is very pleased with the involvement of entrepreneurs on both islands. “I am happy we did this in the form of a workshop and together with other relevant partners such as IND, the Labor Mediator and the Tax Office. Participants were offered a one stop for information because all the agencies dealing with the labor processes were seated in the same room”. In November Social Affairs and Employment will hold similar workshops on both islands with the focus on labor inspection procedures. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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NAGICO backs education with donation to HYPE Agenda

PHILIPSBURG - NAGICO Insurances continues to invest in the community by supporting educational ventures, the latest being a financial donation to the 2015-2016 HYPE Agenda for high school students.

The donation will go towards printing costs for the Agenda.   

NAGICO Marketing Assistant Jamie-Lee Peterson presented the cheque to HYPE at NAGICO’s head office in Philipsburg on Friday, August 14. A group of students from the various high schools, who were part of the coordinating team, accepted the donation on behalf of HYPE.  

The locally produced Agenda is themed: “The journey travelled to achieve one’s goals.” This is the fifth edition of Hype Agenda. The first one was produced in 2008. Other issues were in 2010, 2013, 2014 and now for the 2015-2016 school year. 

The coordinating team involves a group of students from the various high schools in St.

Maarten. These students were actively involved in the production process and they determined the information they want to see reflected in the Agenda. They went out and conducted research and wrote most of the enlightening articles and profiles that appear in the Agenda. The articles reflect the general theme and they relate to the youth.  

Numerous young and adult role models from right here in St. Maarten as well as from Saba, St. Eustatius and internationally are featured throughout the Agenda, including our past and present national heroes.  

The Agendas are specifically tailored for the academic year and cover the months that coincide with the school year making them easy for students to use for school related reminders such as noting down their assignments, projects, homework and other school related things. Also included are useful information such as school vacation dates and study financing information. Pictures taken locally, featuring high school students are also in the Agenda. The HYPE Agenda Team believes that every high school student should have a copy of this agenda. 

HYPE contributing students include Yshmael Hermoso (Learning Unlimited); LeeAnn Wyatt (St. Dominic High); Genora Jankee (St. Maarten Academy Academic); Naomi Jankee (St. Maarten Academy Academic); Brandon Fitzpatrick (St. Dominic High); Aziza Baly-Vanterpool (Milton Peters College) and Celine Mayeko-Coklee (Learning Unlimited), Muskaan Dayalani (St. Dominic High); Jasmine Grannum and Rubecca Shadida Pierre (Caribbean International Academy); Jennifer Dinzey (St. Maarten Academy PSVE); Kimaeyu Mussington and Joanni Henano (MPC) and Cecilia Richardson (St. Maarten Vocational Training School).

Thanks to sponsors, HYPE managed to maintain the price of the Agenda low to make it affordable. Each agenda costs NAf. 10 or US $6 and are available at Penny's Department Store, Office World, Blue Point, Pete's Photo and at the respective high schools.

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FCCA, Ministers of Tourism and Justice and Port St. Maarten discuss Crime Fighting Initiatives and Employment Opportunities

MIAMI/SINT MAARTEN –Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Claret Connor, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson, and Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo, and other delegation officials, met with Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) President Michele Paige and the FCCA Security Committee members Adam Ceserano, Vice President, Domminick A. Froio Jr., Vice President of Security Services, and Michaek Panariello, Director Security Services, on Wednesday morning to discuss crime fighting measures of the Government of St. Maarten along with other matters.

The FCCA praised St. Maarten’s handling of the incident especially from a communications perspective. FCCA was very appreciative of how the Government of St. Maarten and Port management were immediately in direct contact with the FCCA and keeping them abreast of developments as they happened.

The FCCA Security Committee was given an update about the armed robbery incident of August 5, 2015 based on the investigation carried out by law enforcement.  The armed robbery led to the death of Police Officer Gamali Benjamin when he responded to the call.

The follow-up actions by the Government of St. Maarten were explained especially the seriousness of the approach of the Government and the country’s highest legal body, the Parliament of Sint Maarten, to ensure that enhanced security measures are set as high priority for the public and visitors.  The briefing was given by Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson and Acting Chief Police Commissioner Carl John.

The FCCA President and Security Committee were once again assured that safety and security is priority number one for the Government of St. Maarten.

The ports security plan which includes cooperation with the Police Force was also discussed at length where an update was given about initiatives to be developed.  This also includes the camera surveillance network for the Philipsburg area.

More resources will be given to the Bike Patrol and further deliberations will take place between the Ministry of Justice, Police Force, Port Security and the Safety Officer.  The aforementioned will be tied to the expansion of the created Soualiga Patrol.

A follow-up meeting will take place at the FCCA Conference in Mexico in October.  A draft security protocol will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), and will be discussed in detail with the FCCA at the aforementioned conference.

Another important issue discussed were employment opportunities onboard cruise ships; more commercial support for selling island products onboard cruise vessels; and social programs such as the FCCA Crime Social Project.  With respect to the latter, there are a number of successful programs that were highlighted in the meeting about initiatives in Panama, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Claret Connor discussed job opportunities onboard cruise ships which is a program established by the FCCA as well as the FCCA Crime Social Project.  These initiatives he deems very important and could contribute to the overall socio-economic development of St. Maarten.

Minister Connor added that the information received at the meeting he will discuss with the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Rita Bourne-Gumbs, School Management and Educational Institutions in order to ensure that a program which is developed in collaboration with the FCCA is successful and sustainable.  Minister Bourne-Gumbs is also Acting Minister of Labour Affairs.

The opening up of Cuba and the interests of cruise lines was another topic that was discussed between Paige and Port management.

The St. Maarten delegation was also briefed about the cruise line protocol that they have in place in the event of an incident involving a cruise passenger.

Another topic that was discussed is the new BREA (Business Research and Economic Advisors) report which will be published shortly and presented at the FCCA Conference in Mexico. 

Destination St. Maarten has improved its position when it comes to cruise passenger and crew spending.  The report studied the economic impact of the FCCA Member Lines to cruise tourism throughout the Caribbean.

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MP Leona Marlin-Romeo wants Minister of Finance to get Central Bank involved in receiving and resolving complaints

PHILIPSBURG – Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Leona Marlin-Romeo will be requesting a meeting of Parliament to discuss and mandate the Minister of Finance to implore upon the Central Bank to take up their responsibility and assume the tasks of receiving and resolving complaints brought by consumers and, in some cases, small businesses against banks, insurers and/or other financial services providers.

“In our system the Central Bank is supposed to regulate and supervise institutions that offer financial services. This responsibility is not being executed.

“Several months have passed and the Minister of Finance have not reacted to the much discussed subject matter.  The Central Bank have responded but passively, acknowledging their role and responsibility but not actively pursuing the necessary changes that is needed to execute this task.

“What country in this age will have an established Central Bank that do not see consumer protection as a priority?  There is no excuse for the passive behaviour of the Central Bank and the minister,” Independent MP Leona Marlin-Romeo said on Tuesday.

This aspect of consumer protection is related but separate from what the Member of Parliament is advocating for the Small Claims Court of Sint Maarten and for the establishment of a Consumer Protection entity, which are both necessary for Sint Maarten. 

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Rotary Sunrise and Motorworld team up again for students

PHILIPSBURG -Motorworld and Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise have joined forces yet again to help start kids on the right path for this school year. School bags containing school materials such as pens, pencils, copy books, sharpeners and erasers were handed out to students at the Sr. Borgia Elementary School and the Sr. Marie Laurence Primary School.

The students were excited to receive the school bag and supplies as members of Rotary Sunrise, President Marcellia Henry, Fundraising Director Peter Dialani, Vice President Angela Gordon, and Motorworld’s Marketing Officer Lorenzo Gomez, handed out the bags to them.

The two partners wished the Students, Teachers and the Schools’ Principals a very successful school year and hoped that with this the Rotary Club of St Martin Sunrise and Motorworld have contributed to the performance of the children in school.

“Motorworld has proven to be a worthy partner over the years for the Rotary Sunrise in this project”, said President Henry. The club appreciates the acceptance from the business sector to collaborate in such a way that it benefits our community especially as it concerns the youth. Motorworld will continue this relationship with Rotary Sunrise in the years ahead.

On behalf of Motorworld Mr. Lorenzo Gomez thanked the Rotary for partnering with them and said it was a great pleasure to be of service to the community. He also added that this donation is a part of Motorworld’s Educational Campaign that will focus on helping to develop St. Maarten’s next scholar superstars. 

Motorworld is the car dealer for the brands Hyundai, Honda, Daihatsu, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Chrysler, for St. Maarten and neighbouring islands.

For more information visit the Motorworld Sales Department which is located on Welfare rd #20, Cole Bay, St. Maarten Tel: 1-721-544-5294, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit them on Facebook at www.fb.com/mwsxm.

Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise meets at Barefoot Terrace Restaurant every Tuesday mornings at 7:00am for fellowship and breakfast.  For more information on the club visit us at sxmsunrise.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., they are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of Saint Martin Sunrise

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