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Minister of VROMI pondering on replacing chairman of GEBE Supervisory Board.

chrisemmanuel18012017PHILIPSBURG:--- The Minister of VROMI Christopher Emmanuel confirmed to SMN News when asked what he as shareholder representative is doing to ensure that the seats on GEBE board is fully occupied, knowing that the chairman of the board has health related issues that landed him in hospital two weeks ago and one seat was vacated by now MP Romeo Pantophlet. Minister Emmanuel said that he has someone in mind that will fill the seat vacated by MP Pantophlet, that person SMN News reported to Claudius Buncamper.
According to information SMN News received is that government is awaiting an advice from the Council of Advice prior to appointing Buncamper to the Supervisory Board of GEBE.
As for the chairman who is out on medical, the Minister said that his intention is to discuss with the Council of Ministers to have the Chairman replaced especially knowing his medical conditions. He said that one of the things the Council of Ministers has to do prior to taking the decision are to evaluate the Chairman of the GEBE Supervisory Board medical status before taking any decisions.

Another question posed to the Minister which he said he has no answer to was the testing of GEBE water at SLS. According to information SMN News received is that GEBE recently chose not to take their water for testing and are also not paying SLS for their services. SMN News learned that GEBE claimed they are testing their own water but according to the legislation that is in place, the company that is producing water has to have their water tested by an external laboratory. Even though GEBE has been taking their water samples to SLS for testing and is not paying their bills, it is now understood that the new CEO of GEBE is claiming that the company does not have an agreement with SLS and such has not been paying their bills and has refused to take drinking water for testing. 

It should be noted that while all of this taking place behind the scenes, inspectors that are testing water throughout the island found e-coli  and legionella water-borne diseases in some areas that would raise eyebrows, even though all of this was made known to the Minister of VSA who is responsible for the testing of drinking water he has so far remained mum on the issue.


Heightened concerns regarding Pointe Blanche detention facility Law Enforcement Council with threefold inspection.

pointeblancheprison02062012PHILIPSBURG:--- Conditions at St. Maarten’s Point Blanche prison facility continues to be a source of grave concerns. So says the Law Enforcement Council, following completion of a report presented on the 13th of January, last. As of Friday, 24th of February the report will be publicly available.

Prior to launching the latest inspection, the Council had already expressed its concerns regarding several aspects related to safety, security and general conditions at the facility. Incidents such as the escape of an inmate and the murder of another inmate were clear indications that the situations encountered were not the reason for optimism.

In September of 2016, the Law Enforcement Council announced three inspections of the detention facility, based upon a joint request made by the respective justice ministers within the Dutch Kingdom (‘JVO’) to monitor the recommendations made by the CPT (the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and inhumane or degrading treatment).
The first inspection was conducted in October 2016, followed by its report that was presented to the Minister of Justice in January.

In this latest report, the Council inspected the legal status of prisoners, based on nine national and international criteria. In general, the Council concludes that the legal status of prisoners is not, or is not sufficiently, guaranteed in the Pointe Blanche prison and remand center. The Council stresses that, in the short term, the focus should be on the various topics that need to be addressed to meet the minimal requirements of acceptable standards.

The Council concludes, with the necessary regret, that the situation has only become worse since the findings of its report completed in 2014.

The Council additionally inspected key aspects related to prison personnel and of the organization itself. The shortage of personnel, lack of training, lack of communication, an integrity policy which is still in draft form, the lack of a clear direction of the prison and the role of the employees overall, all have an adverse effect on the functioning of the organization and a negative effect on the quality of the primary process of detention. Basic necessities that are essential for the closed setting of a prison are missing. These include a functional wall around the prison area, functional locks as well as safety equipment to be used while working. The Council, basically, found various shortcomings of conditions and resources that a prison organization requires to ensure a healthy living and working environment, for inmates and personnel respectively.

In its report, the Law Enforcement Council also incorporated the 13 recommendations made by the CPT in 2015, for the explicit purpose of contributing to compliance with international standards and much-needed improvements. The Council concludes that the country of Sint Maarten has virtually not acted on any of the CPT’s recommendations.

It should be obvious that the non-compliance with minimal national and international standards and regulations, and all difficulties which the prison is facing, go far beyond the reach of that organization and perhaps even the country itself. Beyond this, the Council stresses that the serious consequences of these issues do not only imply the responsibilities of the country of St. Maarten but those of the Dutch Kingdom as well.

Following its most recent endeavors, the Council has made 18 recommendations, including one to follow-up on the CPT’s recommendations, earlier mentioned.

The Council has had constructive meetings with the minister of Justice regarding the precarious situation at the Point Blanche detention facility.
While the attention needed by government, has often been sporadic and not led to decisive action, the Council encourages that the prison is currently one of the top priorities of the minister of Justice.
With its reports and recommendations as well as with ongoing dialogue about the prison, the Council strives to contribute to a proper functioning of the institution and encourages all actions and measures taken towards (further) structural improvement.
The Council will, in this regard, continue to monitor initiatives spearheaded by the minister of Justice.

The Council expects to produce the final 2 reports (Internal /external safety and security; Rehabilitation and Treatment) of the threefold inspection by April upcoming.

This first report, as well as all other reports of inspections conducted by the Council, can be found on the Council’s official website in the St. Maarten section on www.raadrechtshandhaving.com

Manslaughter suspect sentenced to 4-years imprisonment.

PHILIPSBURG:--- J.R.O. was sentenced on Wednesday, February 22 by the Court of First Instance to 4 years in jail of which 1 suspended. He was found guilty of attempted manslaughter, threat, and lechery. He stabbed Coca-Cola Distributer CC1 Managing Director Iris Delgado in her office on Friday, August 19. The special condition attached to the verdict are that the suspect must remain under the supervision of the probation service, he must receive treatment at the mental Health Foundation and must give periodically urine samples. The prosecutor had asked for the suspect to be sentenced to 6 years in jail.

The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, also sentenced A.H. to 16 months to the jail of which 8 months suspended with a probation period of 3 years for the possession of 2,904 XTC pills. The Court of First Instance had sentenced A.H. On September 7, 2016, to 2 years in jail. During the hearing by the Joint Court of Justice, the Solicitor General had asked again for a two-year prison sentence. The Joint Court of Justice found it legally and convincingly proven that the XTC-pills belonged to A.H.

Prosecutor's Office Bulletin

TelEm Group technicians training on use of newly purchased fiber-blowing tools.

fibrebowls22022017Pond Island:----  TelEm Group recently took delivery of state-of-the-art fiber-blowing tools that technicians are now learning to use in the field with the help of the equipment manufacturer.

The equipment is part of the arsenal of tools that TelEm Group workers themselves will be mobilizing in the coming months when the company begins a massive Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) rollout.

According to Manager, Outside Plant, Mr. Marco London, Tools expert, Jesper Damtoft, and FTTH Engineer, Rune Hausvik, have been made available by the manufacturing company in Norway, to train TelEm Group staff on the use of the new equipment. This is part of the purchase agreement for the tools and equipment.
“Our staff will be training on the subducting and blowing of fiber conduits and cables, the operation of the tools, best practices as well as limited maintenance of the tools,” said Mr. London, during one training session in the Oyster Bay area Wednesday.
He said once classroom training was completed last week, the trainers have now gone into the field with the workers for hands-on application, especially in areas where Fiber optic cable is already being deployed. They will also apply their newly learned skills by installing fiber tubing to cell sites and local businesses.
“With these tools and equipment we will be able to optimize the use of ducts that have been placed in the ground for years,” said Mr. London.
He said another advantage, and a great cost saving, is the fact that the company can minimize the amount of inconvenient and costly trenching that would have been needed to place fiber optic cables into the ground.
“With new technologies now available, and driven by a high demand for fiber capacity we will be able to blow a large amount of fiber into these old ducts without having to dig them up,” said Mr. London.
The Manager Outside plant explained that with the application of the new fibre-blowing tools, ducts previously laid to accommodate up to 24 customers can now serve as many as 432 customers by utilizing micro cables in these ducts instead of larger sized cables.
He also reminded that the training component of the equipment purchase is in line with instructions from the new CEO, Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, who is keen to see that maximum training is provided to Outside plant staff so that they can improve their skills and productivity in the shortest time in preparation for the wider rollout program.

Oro Diamante suspect sentenced to 20 years for the armed robbery that led to the brutal death of Officer Gamali Benjamin.

PHILIPSBURG:---The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, sentenced R.D., the main suspect in the robbery of the Oro Diamante jewelry store on August 5, 2015, to 25 years in jail. On May 4, 2016, the Court of First Instance had sentenced R.D. to 20 years in jail. The Attorney General had asked for 30 years in jail during the hearing of the appeal case 3 weeks ago. R.D. was again found guilty of accessory to armed robbery, illegal firearm possession, aggravated manslaughter against police Officer Gamali Benjamin and attempted manslaughter against police officer Carty. The other suspect J.L. was sentenced by the Joint Court of Justice to 15 years in jail. He was found guilty of accessory to armed robbery, accessory to manslaughter, illegal firearm possession and jewelry laundering. The Court of First Instance had sentenced him to 8 years in jail. During the hearing by the Joint Court of Justice, the Attorney general asked for 25 years in jail. The third suspect O.A.C. who was acquitted of all charges by the Court of First Instance was sentenced by the Joint Court of Justice to 4 years in jail. He was found guilty of accessory to robbery.

Prosecutor's Office Bulletin.


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