Soualiga News Today
Menu

Soualiga News Today (3923)

Wever raise issue of green energy with NV GEBE CEO

SINT MAARTEN (CAY BAY) —Global demand for renewable energy has the attention of VROMI Minister Christopher Wever who broached the subject of moving towards green energy during his first interaction with energy and water supply company NV GEBE's CEO Kenrick Chittick on Saturday last week.

The Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (VROMI), expressed his concern over the Island's high energy cost and said there is a need for permanent solutions to reduce the cost of electricity for the consumer.

Wever spoke frankly with Chittick following a recent power outage on St. Maarten, which stemmed from a damaged engine and resulted in load-shedding for three days. He wanted to know about the company's plans to move towards alternative energy sources, especially considering the negative environmental impact of Fossil Fuel.

The increasing intense hurricanes seen in St. Maarten when hurricane Irma devastated the Island and hurricane Dorian's recent destruction of The Bahamas leaving many dead and over 70,000 homeless, is also a cause for concern.

Wever said, "We cannot ignore our negative impact on climate and the role we can play in climate change even in the smallest way."

He said, "Just by using alternative energy we can keep more money in the pockets of single mothers who have to struggle with the cost of school and clothes for their children and to maintain a household."

"We can keep a small business going because the owner now has enough money to pay his employees and maintain his operation."

These benefits alone are significant wins for us, especially since we are still in recovery."

Chittick explained that the company has already been leaning towards Solar Energy. Several options were explored, including putting Solar Panels on the roofs of School Roofs or over parking structures to generate energy. The discussions were put on hold after Hurricane Irma struck the Island in September 2017 damaging many of the facilities considered for the program.

In general, GEBE has also looked at increasing its energy output capacity. They already purchased an area of land near the Cay Bay Power Plant where they plan to install a new engine. The plans call for the demolition of an old building that has been in existence for nearly 50-years.

Other options considered in the past was using Liquid Natural Gas to power engines. Whatever is ultimately decided, Minister Wever intends to support the company's move to cleaner, more cost-efficient source of energy for St. Maarten.

Thanks to Sol Petroleum St. Maarten GEBE does not have to search very far to source fuel. The challenge though is GEBE's storage capacity is too small to capitalize at times on global market changes in fuel costs. Whenever this is possible, Chittick told the Minister the cost savings are passed on to the consumer.

The question raised in the community is whether the time has already come for GEBE to move from fossil fuel with its high percentage of Carbon. Many believe that the Caribbean Islands such as St. Maarten are ideally suited for the use of Solar Panels because of its year-round tropical sunshine.

"We must take stock of the impact we have had for many years on the environment." Wever said on Sunday, "By our actions, we pollute the air we breathe, and we also leave a heavy financial burden for low-and middle-class income homes."

Wever says as Minister of VROMI he intends to work through his Ministry with GEBE and other Public/Private Partners on the establishment and implementation of an alternative energy strategy so St. Maarten can do its part can contribute to mitigating climate change.

He said, "I recognize that the initial cost for transitioning into alternative energy may be high, but a cost-benefit analysis will show that the benefits outweighs the cost."

GEBE is presently repairing the roof that house two of its engines after which the company will put those engines back online.

Read more...

K1 DIRECT currently deployed to assist with relief in Bahamas

SINT MAARTEN/BAHAMAS - K1 DIRECT, K1 Britannia Foundation’s Disaster Relief & Crisis, is currently deploying a team of trained volunteer members to assist with relief and aid in the Bahamas.

Due to devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, disaster relief efforts have commenced and K1 DIRECT will be on ground to provide assistance to the Bahamian community. K1 DIRECT has been diligently training in various fields of disaster management to assist the disaster relief structure of St. Maarten and other islands through shelter management, first response, distribution management and more within the region.

K1 DIRECT is a team of trained volunteers in which different members are certified as Emergency Medical Responders, and trained in CPR/AED, First Aid, and Psychosocial Support, and End-to-End Supply Chain Management. DIRECT members work across the fields of medical response, humanitarian relief, data collection, and others. The team will be going to the Bahamas to provide a service of their expertise, and will be on the ground to collaborate with other organizations and initiatives, and fill in where most needed.

Members of both the St. Maarten and Curacao team, are currently making preparations to depart, are completely insured under the foundation, and have received all necessary supplies to ensure the team and its resources capacity can be mobilized during a disaster.

K1 DIRECT is currently not taking supplies due to the logistical issue of transporting goods at this moment. However, the team urges whoever in the community wants to assist to either make a monetary donation on our website or get in contact as help is needed in other forms as well.

K1 DIRECT also is kindly inviting the community of St. Maarten to support the team by purchasing a raffle ticket; funds generated through the raffle will go towards the disaster operational budget. The disaster operational budget will be used to cover any costs of operation and activation of the team which includes buying fuel, emergency medical expenses, materials, and transportation costs.

For more information, or to make a donation please call +1 (721) 553-4727, +1 (721) 553-8186, or +1 (721) 543-3332 or email us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit the K1 Britannia Foundation office located at Falcon Drive #7, Suite A3, Brooks Tower and to stay updated with the relief efforts visit their website www.k1britanniafoundation.org, or Facebook www.facebook.com/k1sxm.

Read more...

Dutch and French authorities investigate Friday Kidnapping in the area of Cole Bay

COLE BAY - On Friday September 06th 2019 at about 10.40 am the Central Dispatch of the police received a call concerning a kidnapping that took place in the area of Cole Bay, police said in a statement on Friday.

The information was passed on to the patrol in Simpson Bay and the detective department. The French authorities were also informed about the ongoing situation.

Later in the day the information came into the detective department that cars that were involved in the suspected kidnapping have been stopped on the French side and suspects arrested.

The cars that were supposedly involved in the kidnapping were also confiscated for further investigation. There is no clear information about the victim and his whereabouts.

The law enforcement agencies on both sides of the island are busy with this investigation. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

Read more...

NIPA and MIC-IT sign One-year Extension Agreement

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) has partnered with Trinidad-based MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT), initially under a one-year contract slated to end December 2019, to offer various courses to the community of St. Maarten.

An agency of the Trinidad Ministry of Education, MIC-IT offers courses in Technical and Vocational Training; Industry Services; and Construction Services.

MIC-IT, accredited in 2014 by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT), has collaborated with NIPA to provide free technical vocational courses in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry and property maintenance that allow students to graduate with fitting credentials.

The training program, funded by the World Bank, has been successful in not only producing graduating classes, but the overwhelming response within the community since its inception has called for an extension of this project that increasingly continues to spark interests islandwide.

On Wednesday, September 4, a meeting was held at NIPA Headquarters to officially announce the extension of the existing contract with MIC-IT, now set to end December 2020. Drs. Peggy-Ann Dros, Chairlady of Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) Board of Directors, defined this extension as a continuation of the existing partnership and the courses being offered, referring to it as the way to “fledge out more opportunities for business owners who require employee training, as well as … for revamping the core NIPA programs.”

In attendance was Mr. Sergio Blomont, General Director of NIPA, along with other members of the NIPA Management and Support Team. Representing MIC-IT were CEO Mr. Anil Ramnarine; Professor Clement Imbert, Chairman of the Board; Mr. Nathan Langaigne, General Manager of Training Division; Mr. Deshaun David, Project Manager; and visiting Instructors of MIC-IT. Also present were Dros, and Vice-Chair Mrs. Annuska Friday-Illis, representing the AVE Board of Directors.

The monumental event was streamed live via the NIPA Facebook page.

Read more...

NA MP Emmanuel: The Prosecutor’s office operates dangerously comparable to the Gestapo

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel urges the Minister Cornelius de Weever to step down if he cannot assume his authority in his capacity as Minister of Justice, the NA parliamentary faction said in a press statement on Thursday. MP Emmanuel firmly believes that the Openbaar Ministerie (OM)/ Prosecutor’s office has been completely running the Ministry ever since Minister de Weever took office.

The Member of Parliament is seriously questioning the manner in which the OM office operates. “It can’t be that those at OM feel that they can do whatever they want, however they want with impunity. It is dangerous and unacceptable”, said MP Emmanuel. He further explained that this is the reason why he often compares this modus operandi to that of the ‘Gestapo’. “The Gestapo was the official secret political police of Nazi Germany. The alternative German title is ‘Geheime Staatspolizei’, which translates to ‘Secret State Police’ in English”, he explained.

The MP said that you can draw stork similarities from the Gestapo Criminal Organization to that of the OM in St. Maarten. The Gestapo operated without any civil restraints, had the authority of making ‘preventative arrests’ and its actions were not subject to judicial appeal, which is very much comparable to the Anti-Corruption Task Force (TBO) on St. Maarten. With that said, MP Emmanuel went on to question what legal basis the TBO has to operate and who does it answer to. He wants to know whether the TBO is held accountable by the Minister of Justice, the OM or the Dutch Minister of Justice.

MP Emmanuel stated that the Minister of Justice has given up his authority to the Prosecutor’s Office to do whatever they want to, specifically regarding the laws concerning the FATF. “What does the law on Crown Witnesses has to do with the approval of FATF? One has nothing to do with the other. However, it is a directive from the OM which gives them ultimate authority in my country, but I say NO to the Gestapo”, he said.

Lastly, MP Emmanuel seriously urges his fellow Members of Parliament to not give the OM such power because it is dangerous for the people of St. Maarten.

Below is a translated version of the Draft Code of Criminal Procedure of St. Maarten. This is provided by the NA parliamentary faction in order to give thorough insight about the law on Crown Witnesses.


Draft Code of Criminal Procedure of Sint Maarten  

Fifth Section B  

Commitments to witnesses 

Article. 261f 

  1. Where the Prosecutor, with the prior written consent of the General Prosecutor, intends to make an appointment with a suspect who is prepared to give evidence in criminal proceedings against another suspect in exchange for a commitment from the Prosecutor, he shall inform the Commissioner responsible for the prosecution. The proposed appointment relates exclusively to the giving of testimony in the context of an investigation into offences as defined in Article 100, paragraph 1, that are committed in an organized context and, given their nature or their connection with other suspected offences committed by the accused, constitute a serious breach of the rule of law or to offences for which the legal description provides for a term of imprisonment of eight years or more. Under no circumstances can the Public Prosecutor promise full immunity.  
  1. The suspect who consults with the public prosecutor about making an appointment in accordance with the first paragraph may be assisted by a lawyer. A lawyer will be awarded to the suspect who does not yet have legal aid.  
  2. The intended appointment has been made in writing and contains as accurate a description as possible of it:  
  3. the offences about which and, if possible, the accused against whom the accused, who is also a witness as referred to in the first paragraph, is prepared to make a statement;  
  4. the offences for which the accused himself will be prosecuted and to which the promise relates;  
  5. the conditions that are imposed on the accused, who is also a witness, and with which he is prepared to comply;  
  6. the content of the public prosecutor's promise. 

Article. 261g 

  1. The examining magistrate hears the accused, as well as a witness, about the intended agreement and then assesses the legitimacy of the agreement referred to in Article 261, paragraph 1. The Public Prosecutor shall provide the examining magistrate with the information he needs to assess it. In his assessment the examining magistrate takes into account the urgent need and the importance of obtaining the statement to be made by the accused, who is also a witness. He also gives an opinion on the reliability of the witness.  
  2. The examining magistrate shall lay down his opinion in an order. If he judges the agreement to be lawful, it will be made. The decision of the examining magistrate shall be reasoned, dated and signed and shall immediately be notified in writing to the public prosecutor and to the accused, who shall also be a witness.  
  3. The Public Prosecutor may appeal to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the examining magistrate in which the intended agreement is deemed not to be lawful within fourteen days after the date of the decision. The Court of Appeal will decide as soon as possible.  
  4. The Public Prosecutor will not attach the official report and other objects from which data can be derived that have been obtained by making an appointment as referred to in Article 261f to the procedural documents until the examining magistrate has judged the appointment to be lawful.  

Article. 261h 

  1. After the appointment has been lawfully judged, the defendant as a witness referred to in article 261f, first paragraph, shall be questioned by the judge. 
  2. This witness cannot be questioned in application of articles 261 to 261e. 
  3. As soon as the interest of the investigation so permits, the examining magistrate will notify the accused, at whose expense the statement was made, of the conclusion of the agreement and its contents, on the understanding that no notification of the measures, as referred to in article 261k, is required.  
  4. In the interests of the investigation, the examining magistrate may, on his own behest, at the request of the Public Prosecutor or at the request of the witness, order that the identity of the witness be concealed from the accused for a specified period. The order shall be lifted by the examining magistrate before the completion of the investigation.  

Article. 261i 

  1. Articles 261f to 261h shall apply mutatis mutandis where a convicted person is prepared to give a witness statement, in return for a commitment from the Public Prosecutor. 
  2. The requirement of Article 261f, paragraph 3, section b, is not applicable when the intended appointment is made in writing.  

Article. 261j 

By or pursuant to a National decree containing general measures, further rules may be laid down regarding the manner in which this section is to be implemented.  

From the explanatory memorandum: 

The scheme does not have an exhaustive system of commitments. Further details can be provided by national decree containing general measures. It is important that there is a direct link between the performance of one party and the consideration of the other party. It must also be a verifiable witness statement and the information to be obtained must be essential for the investigation and the evidence in the case. 
 

A quid pro quo could be, for example:  

– demanding a lower capital punishment, with the public prosecutor reporting this in his indictment;  

- remission of part of the principal penalty imposed by means of pardon;  

- the replacement of the custodial sentence by a community service sentence;  

- Detention under a different regime.  

Less obvious and also undesirable are, for example, the following promises:  

- commitments regarding the content of the indictment;  

- criminal immunity;  

- commitments with regard to abandoning the active investigation or prosecution of criminal offences, contrary to the current investigation and prosecution policy;  

- the granting of a financial reward;  

- the total or partial omission of the execution of a judicial decision;  

- favoring others than the witness, such as his life partner.  

(Emphasis added for clarification)  

Commentary: 

The proposed scheme follows the Dutch (art. 226g/226k Sv) in a fairly strong degree. The main exceptions are in art. 261f paragraph 1 (vgl. NL Art. 226g paragraph 1). 
In the Netherlands, the exclusion of a custodial sentence, duty penalty or fine, up to a maximum of half (art. 226g paragraph 1 Sv jo. 44a Sr) may be pledged. This means that no immunity should be afforded, nor a monetary reward (premium).  

Nor should any commitment be made with regard to additional penalties, such as confiscation, or measures such as the TBS or the deprivation of a part of the benefits.    

The system now proposed would abandon these restrictions. It is sufficient to state in the explanatory memorandum that certain undertakings are undesirable: immunity, financial reward (a premium) or the non-implementation of penalties imposed by the court. It could be deduced from the announcement that the Minister may lay down 'additional rules' by National decree, that the designers wished to place the legislative power with respect to the limitation in the hands of the Minister. In this way, the draft regulation is stripped of its essence in relation to the Dutch regulation: only procedural rules remain, and what really matters is: what promises may be made remains unregulated.  

Yet it is not for nothing that the Dutch law does express itself on this subject. After all, promising criminals a reduction in their sentences affects justice: they are not given the punishment which they deserve, and what they have done remains wholly or partially unpunished. This is particularly evident in the deprivation of benefits: the criminal not only avoids (part of) his punishment, he is also allowed to keep the loot he has gained. This may be acceptable in order to prevent even bigger criminals from going unpunished for lack of evidence (small fish, big fish) - but in any case it seems necessary to set limits, and to mark them clearly. Such a far-reaching power should not be left to a Minister - who will probably be guided by the wishes of the police and the Public Prosecution Office. Moreover, practice has shown that the crown witnesses are generally not small fish at all.  

There's another side to the case. The more attractive the reward promised, the more likely it is that false statements will be made in order to win that attractive prize. The court in particular must guard against this, but the Dutch legislator's idea that a legal restriction will also be beneficial in this case seems reasonable. The temptation must not become too great!  

The fact that the proposed system is too broad is further illustrated by the finding that it even leaves room for the non-enforcement of judicial decisions; according to the explanatory memorandum, this is undesirable, but apparently not inadmissible. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, finds this so directly contrary to the principles of due process that it must lead to inadmissibility of the Public Prosecution Service in the prosecution - and with good reason, because this undermines the authority of the judge and leaves the decision as to which punishment must actually be served to the Public Prosecution Office. Then, for the same reason, the sentencing itself can be handed over to that body!  

In short: a regulation such as the one proposed does not belong in a constitutional state! It is therefore highly questionable whether it is EHRM-resistant. But before we would find that out, the damage would have already been done. 

 

Read more...

NEW PUBLC PROSECUTOR TOURS MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Public prosecutor Geert Steeghs paid his first visit to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), according to a press release on Tuesday.

Being familiar with the topic of mental health in Holland, Mr. Steeghs sat down with MHF Interim Director Ms. Eileen Healy, and Forensic psychologist Ms. Zoya Hyman where a wide range of topics were discussed including the products and services provided by the foundation, about progress being made, ongoing challenges and future expectations.

Mr. Steeghs was also given an informative tour where he got the opportunity to meet other staffers and ask questions in relation to their various roles at the foundation.

Read more...

SMMC partners with Positive and Elektralyets Foundations to promote Prostate cancer awareness

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has partnered with the Positive Foundation and Elektralyets Foundation to promote the awareness of Prostate cancer through a special campaign that is themed ‘MAN UP & CHECK UP’.

September is recognized globally as ‘Prostate Health Month’ and ‘Prostate Cancer Awareness Month’.  prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men. Risk factors include age, race, nationality and family history. While it is a serious disease, it is treatable, but early detection is key.

The goal of the ‘MAN UP & CHECK UP’ campaign is to raise awareness of and improve education on prostate health and prostate cancer through public service announcements, radio interviews, social media posts, registration drives, billboards and a lecture.

Ms. Mercedes Wyatt of the Elektralyets Foundation states: “The foundations have been talking and thinking a lot about doing something for Prostate Cancer Awareness and contacted by SMMC we gladly accepted the challenge to work together”.

She continues; “We want to help break the taboo of prostate cancer on the island. We can do this through educating and encouraging men to talk about this disease to their health care provider and to other men in their communities. We are very excited to be working with the SMMC on this Prostate Awareness Campaign and look forward to help saving lives on St. Maarten.”

We urge all men to take charge of their health and talk to their family physician about prostate cancer. Get to know the risks involved and the importance of getting regular Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Tests to aid early detection.

Be sure to visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/StMaartenMedicalCenter throughout the month of September for campaign activities and updates.

Read more...

Tourist Bureau Hosts Workshop with TripAdvisor and Expedia

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Globally recognized and leading Travel Booking Websites TripAdvisor and Expedia led a full-day workshop on global market trends attended by some of the Island’s travel and tourism private sector, in St. Maarten on August 27.

This event was organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, & Telecommunication TEATT and led by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. During the workshop the Travel Companies presented the latest market trends and new opportunities to position St. Maarten’s tourism products and services in North America.  

Minister of TEATT the Honorable Stuart Johnson gave the opening remarks and welcomed the attendees. Johnson said on Sunday that these initiatives continue to yield significant fruit in attracting new visitors and securing the return of our longtime vacationers.

He said St. Maarten will take full advantage of opportunities to collaborate with its international partners on destination marketing initiatives “as we continue to position our island as the number one travel destination.”

The discussions and presentations were led by Carol Johnson, TripAdvisor’s Senior Destination Marketing Manager and Ana Medina, Expedia’s Business Development Manager for the Caribbean region. In addition to presenting the latest trends and new opportunities, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Medina also reviewed the campaigns that St. Maarten ran with their respective platforms in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

St. Maarten recently launched an extensive marketing campaign with TripAdvisor and Expedia in the USA that aims to get the message across to consumers that the island is open for business, show the diversity of the St. Maarten’s product offering, and drive bookings to the destination. The campaigns will run through December 31, 2019.

The U.S. is St. Maarten’s top source market. Between January and June of this year, St. Maarten welcomed 92,285 visitors from the U.S., a steady increase over the 67,533 Americans that visited the island during the same period in 2018, showing strong recovery from the hurricanes.

“We are committed to having both public and private sectors work closely together in marketing St. Maarten as a leading Caribbean destination and to helping the private sector find new opportunities to further develop the island’s tourism industry,” said St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication, Stuart Johnson.

For her part, May-Ling Chun, St. Maarten’s Director of Tourism said: “We are working in close cooperation with all of our industry partners to ensure the strong and sustainable recovery of the tourism sector on the island and look forward to creating more opportunities for local partners to promote our island’s diverse tourism products.”

Read more...

Appointment and Oath Taking Ceremony for New Minister of VROMI

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - On August 30th, His Excellency the Governor of Sint Maarten, drs. E.B. Holiday administered the oath of office of Mr. Christopher Wever as Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure.

During the ceremony Governor Holiday advised the new Minister – as well as his colleague ministers – that the successful rebuilding of a sustainable and resilient Sint Maarten will depend on the degree in which they work together. That is why article 39 of the constitution requires that the council of ministers meet, deliberate and take decisions to promote the unity of government’s overall policy.

Governor Holiday congratulated the new Minister and wished him wisdom and strength, individually and together with his colleagues as he seeks to meet his constitutional responsibility to the people of Sint Maarten.

Read more...

Government debt of NAf 91 million to SZV resolution one step closer

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Director of SZV Glen A. Carty and Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings signed a letter of intent on Friday August 23rd regarding the outstanding social & health insurances premiums owed by Government to SZV. The letter of intent outlines a structured approach to address the repayment of the outstanding amount of approximately 91 million guilders, accumulated over many years by the Sint Maarten Government. Both Carty and Geerlings are eager to start this new chapter and permanently resolve the financial backlog.

“While we have always had a good understanding with Government regarding the repayment of the debt, we are now one step closer to a structural resolve. This agreement is good for the country, for the people of Sint Maarten and their social & health insurances.” – Glen A. Carty, Director SZV

Government’s outstanding to SZV primarily includes premium contributions for its civil servants and ‘PP’ card holders, premium contributions for the unemployed under the sickness insurance ordinance and division of assets outstanding. As per December 31st, 2018 the outstanding amount was recorded to be NAf 91.622.287,-. While corrections may be applicable, both SZV and Government will commence with the necessary planning to introduce feasible agreements to Government’s payment plan.

“The Government of Sint Maarten intends to pay off its debts to SZV, within reasonable means. We have been working on this for months and it was a complicated exercise. One of the major contributors to the debt has been our liquidity issue due to the annual deficits in our budget. The 2017 hurricanes are also contributors to the debt. The Government of Sint Maarten is close to complying with the Kingdom instruction of 2015, to settle the outstanding arrears. This letter of intent allows us to move forward based on realistic agreements that Government can meet.” - Minister Perry Geerlings

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio