SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPBURG) - The board of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) on Monday said it stands behind USP MP and faction leader Claudius Buncamper in calling for a fair trial for his latest fight with the prosecuting authority on St. Maarten and questioned when is St. Maarten going to say enough is enough to underhanded tactics used by prosecuting authorities apparently on a mission to ruin every elected representative, the USP said in a press statement on Wednesday.
The USP board said the 23 million price tag at the disposal of the prosecutors has yielded very little in terms of a serious conviction rate because cases of the prosecutors are baseless and/or circumstantial at best. "Is it really worth it?" the party board asked.
The case of the Buncampers is the perfect case in point the board added. "It took over a decade of investigating and getting help from a media source to tarnish the Buncamper’s name. In the end the so called conviction was for taxes, a simple issue that could have been solved in one afternoon at the tax department. This is what 23 million annually is being spent on. What we have is a campaign to willfully tarnish and ruin people."
The board also raised the case of MP Christopher Emmanuel as another example of abuse. It pointed out the prosecutor on a whim or the "he say" of whomever, sought to investigate MP Emmanuel without doing their due diligence to determine if they even had enough to start an investigation. "But this didn't matter to them. They created sensational headlines, tarnished a person's name, created issues for him and his family at banks and other places and for what? For something a Minister is within his or her rights to do. The only thing the prosecutor office is interested in is destroying vocal elected representatives," the USP board said.
The USP board said Parliament and/or government must start taking a stand against these prosecutorial procedures that seem only applicable on St. Maarten. The board questioned, for example, how any citizen can defend themselves in a court of law if the accuser (read: prosecutor) refuses to provide information on what any citizen is being investigated for, followed by judges who actually rule in favor of such a practice.
"Anywhere in the free democratic world, documentation is turned over. Not St. Maarten. Imagine you can be under investigation for 10 years and not be given information. Imagine you can read in the media you are under investigation and when you ask for information you and your lawyer are refused. You are in the dark and at the whim of the prosecutor. This is the controlled state in which we live."
The USP board called on elected public officials to wake up and realize that such practices not only affect elected people who make headlines, but citizen cases that pass under the radar.
"When will this abuse and unfair treatment in our own country stop and when will we decide to stop it? Prosecutors can start an investigation and drag it for God knows how long. In the meantime your entire life is turned upside down in your own country. Parliament and government must make it a priority to address blatant abuse of human rights," the party board concluded.