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Consultation on Judicial Cooperation between the Four Kingdom Countries Successful

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Especially in times of crisis, it is of great importance to continue to work together well and constructively within the Kingdom.

Today, Thursday, the Ministers of Justice Grapperhaus (the Netherlands including the Caribbean Netherlands), Bikker (Aruba), Girigorie (Curaçao) and Richardson (St. Maarten) met to discuss judicial cooperation within the Kingdom. This time, State Secretary Knops of the Interior and Kingdom Relations also joined the meeting.

Data protection and information exchange

In tackling crime, it is important that countries are able to quickly exchange information with each other, with robust data protection. Therefore, the ministers have made agreements to ensure that the protection of data is arranged unequivocally. Discussions also focused on how the islands' information hubs can continue to be developed through the correct training courses and earmarked capacity.

Exchange of knowledge and expertise

The quality of the public prosecutors is also a priority on the countries' agenda. Today, agreements have been made so that local prosecutors (from the islands) are trained every year. Additionally, agreements were made about financing the process. Further there has been compliance on the education programmes on law in the countries, so that graduates of the universities of Aruba and Curaçao can have equal access to selection and training courses for the professions of lawyer, judge and public prosecutor in the Netherlands. These agreements will also encourage exchanges of these professionals between the countries and enhance the quality and diversity of legal professions.

Uniform criminal procedural law

Criminal procedural law contains the rules on how the police and public prosecution service can detect violations and on the way in which judges should decide on these violations. The modernisation of the Wetboek van Strafvordering (Code of Criminal Procedure) in the three countries and the Caribbean Netherlands will make the criminal process more efficient and, among other things, give more rights to victims. For the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office, the same rules apply throughout the Caribbean part of the Kingdom for tracing criminal offences. The judges can also apply the same rules for trying these cases. Agreements have therefore been made so that these codes have the same content and come into force at the same time.

Strengthening the rule of law

'Strengthening the rule of law' has also been discussed, as part of the country packages. The four countries have made a dynamic start with the implementation of these measures. The Netherlands is making a structural amount of up to 45 million euros available to strengthen the rule of law in the Caribbean countries within the Kingdom.

The aim of the six-monthly consultation is to achieve agreement on a joint, coordinated approach to the shared judicial issues facing the various countries. During the consultation Minister Grapperhaus of course also represented the interests of the Caribbean Netherlands, namely Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Judicial Four Parties Consultation (JVO) was once again a digital meeting chaired by Aruba. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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CPS detects COVID-19 among its staff

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Collective Prevention Services (CPS) would like to inform the general public that after almost one year of being on the COVID-19 forefront, there have been no cases in-house. However, on January 13, CPS detected COVID-19 among its staff. The department immediately enacted their plan to deal with any positive cases, including immediate testing of staff.

Staff members that have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus will remain in isolation. CPS will continue to monitor and test all staff over the next two weeks to limit further transmission. Furthermore, CPS has activated their contingency plan to ensure that all COVID-19 related tasks and public health-related services, including the baby clinic and vector control, continue as normal. 

“I’d like to remind the public that COVID-19 can affect anyone at any time. CPS would like to reassure our clients that all efforts are in place to safeguard the health of our staff and the public. Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and maintain a 2-meter distance from others,” stated Department Head Eva Lista- de Weever.

Persons experiencing signs and symptoms which may be related to COVID-19, and persons who have been in close contact with a confirmed case are encouraged to make use of CPS’ free COVID-19 testing drive thru from 9:30am - 11:30am in Point Blanche at the lot before the harbor. Any weekend testing will remain by appointment only.

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Who is Suicidal? - Warning Signs

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) for psychological wellness said in a press statement on Tuesday.

Amari is a teenager with social anxiety who has always felt a little different. In high school life became really challenging for him. He had a hard time living up to his parents standards for him and the social rules that dominated the school. Sometimes he thinks it would be easier if he would just cease to exist, not be here anymore. At first the thought would just flash through his mind, but quickly the thought began to grow and his mind started to tell him that he might be right. It might be better if he just wasn’t here anymore. He wouldn’t have to deal with the pressure of his parents wanting him to do good or the pressure of his peers needing him to fit in.

John is a male in his forties struggling with chronic pain after an accident at work. Since then John hasn’t been able to work and his family has been struggling to make ends meet. John often thinks that he is a burden to his wife. She has to work 2 jobs to provide for him and the family. As a result of feeling guilty he often withdraws and isolates himself. John has a strong belief that he should relieve his family; he thinks that it would be much easier for them if he was no longer here.

Catherine is a female in her mid-twenties. Throughout her life she has been struggling with the remnants of the abuse she endured in her childhood. She feels that no one really understands what she is going through. She tries to be successful in life but somehow things tend to not go the way she would have hoped for. Catherine feels that no one would even notice if she would not be here anymore. Nobody cares about her, so what does it matter if she is dead or alive.

Amari, John and Catherine are fictitious characters. While their stories might not be real, the thoughts and situations described can be very real and they might even be relatable. Perhaps you know someone in a similar situation or you have felt like this before. Recently the community on St. Maarten has been shaken by a few suicide incidents in a short period of time. Unfortunately suicide is not uncommon. Worldwide 800.000 people commit suicide every year. This is 1 person every 40 seconds¹. Often people who commit suicide have been feeling lonely, depressed or unhappy for a long time. It could be that they feel that nobody understands them and that it does not make any sense for them to be here on earth any longer. People who commit suicide often do not necessarily want to die, but they do want to get out of what seems to them like an endless situation.

Do you feel like committing suicide or do you know anyone who is feeling suicidal, ask for help! Your general practitioner can refer you to a mental health provider who can help you get grips on your suicidal thoughts and can help you give your life perspective again.

In need of urgent assistance? Call the Mental Health Foundation Crisis number: +1721-520-5556. All calls are CONFIDENTIAL.

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2020 Recipient of the Mercedes Winkel Service Award. Catherine Ribeiro contributed to documenting history

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - Catherine Ribeiro (18) recently traveled to BROWN-University at Rhode Island in the U.S.A. to pursue the study of Environmental Science.

She graduated last year at the International School of Curaçao as the salutatorian: the student ranking average second highest over her High school-years and then delivers the salutatory-speech in her graduating class.

A special mention is that Catherine Ribeiro received the Mercedes Winkel Service Award for her assistance in the documenting of information for an historic book that will be published in the near future.

Her assistance in the documentation was the complete recording and helping with the manuscript.

This book will for sure be an interesting addition to document history in Curaçao because documentation of history is essential for the communication between then and now; for the understanding of how we got where we are today.

.It is also the most valuable tool for conservation of knowledge and is definitely a communication tool for the public and specifically young people.

And all documented experiences will be priceless for humanity because by having the material to read and study gives us a better understanding of our communities, the world and humanity. And knowing history can let us understand why we are where we are today and why the community is the way it is.

The Mercedes Winkel Service Award is given to an individual who has provided significant and continuous service to the Curaçao community, beyond the classroom and even the school.

This special individual is always there to give support with a friendly smile and positive service attitude towards others. This individual understands the meaning of service and gives to others selflessly expecting no compensation in return. 

Catherine intends to continue with her extracurricular activities to get a broader view on challenges of the human environment.

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Suspect in truck driver assault turns himself in at the police station

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - On Sunday January 10th, 2021, around 02.00 pm, officers arrested the man with the initials M.J.A.D. at the police station after assaulting a driver of a trailer truck on the Welfare road, police said on Monday.

The whole situation which was recorded by bystanders was later circulated on social media, and also seen by the personnel of the Detective Department.

The victim with the initials J.F. D.L.-D.R. who suffered laceration to his arms and legs, later appeared at the police station in Philipsburg and made an official complaint of severe ill-treatment against the suspect.

While the victim was making an official complaint, M.J.A.D. appeared at the police station in Philipsburg and informed the officers that he had ill-treated the victim after a verbal altercation.

He was immediately arrested and incarcerated pending further investigation. (KPSM)

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SMCC: Who Yu Fuh? Definitely not for WE!

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Sint Maarten Consumers Coalition (SMCC) said in a Thursday media statement: “When we evaluate the 25% cut proposed in the remunerations of the politicians of Curacao, Aruba and St Maarten, the 20% cut for the private sector workers so that their employer could receive a maximum of 60% payroll support and the 12.5% cuts in the remunerations of civil servants and (semi)public workers (teachers, workers from government owned companies and government subsidized organizations), all of these as conditions for the second tranche of liquidity support, the question “WHO YU FUH”, can definitely be answered as: “NOT FOR WE!!”

“Based on the imposition of the racial discriminatory conditions on the people of Curacao, Aruba and ST Maarten, by the Dutch government to provide liquidity support, it is clear that the Dutch politicians in government supported by the Dutch parliament, continue their more than 360 years colonial apartheid policy! This has never been a policy to benefit us, but to benefit the Dutch state!

“The Dutch state through the Ministry of Internal relations and Kingdom Affairs is implementing and forcing this policy upon the government and the people of St Maarten!

“Who has to pay for all these conditions? The liquidity support has to be paid back within two years from now by us, the consumers in ST Maarten. Did the Dutch people have to pay interest for the cultural, social and economic rights realization? Not at all.

“So why do we have to pay interest on the loan provided as liquidity support? Why are our politicians accepting these racially discriminatory pay back conditions? What was the negotiation position our government had in the negotiations?

“It is clear that the Dutch government forced decisions taken by the Curacao, Aruba and ST Maarten governments, are violating our worker’s rights and human rights to an equal economic social and cultural rights treatment!

“So the question now to our local politicians in government and parliament is: “WHO YU FUH?” Our politicians want us to believe that these decisions are in the interest of the people! We disagree!

“The cuts in our labor remunerations make our household income less. With 94% already having a combined household income of less than 5000 ANG, the cuts imposed will further reduce the household income of the worker families in our societies!

“SO WHO YU FU? Definitely not fur the people! Our politicians are for the KNOPSY and Co! Our politicians are definitely not for WE! Or they have to start to respect and defend the worker’s rights and human rights of our workers and their families, which we as Anti-Poverty Platform and Consumers Coalition are defending!

“Will that happen this year? This was not the case last year! The Memorandum of Understanding proposed by the Windward Island Chamber of Labor Unions has still not been discussed or signed by the Council of Ministers!

“In other words, we want to know when the answer to the question “Who Yu fuh?” will be: “WE for WE!!!.”

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Annual National Day of Prayer 2021 goes virtual, with theme “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Government of Sint Maarten in collaboration with the St. Maarten Christian Council, St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation and the Seventh Day Adventist Church will host the annual National Day of Prayer. The annual event is held on the second Sunday in January, which falls on, January 10th, 2021.

This year’s event with the theme “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done” will be a virtual video presentation due to the ongoing COVID-19 protocols that discourages large social gatherings. The public is encouraged to view the service by tuning in live on the Government of St. Maarten’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel on January 10th, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. It will also be broadcasted on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115 at 8:00 p.m. on the same evening.

Every year, the Government of St. Maarten invites the entire Sint Maarten community to pray and worship at the National Day of Prayer at the Government Administration Building. The National Day of Prayer was decreed in 2005 by the Executive Council of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten and serves as an ecumenical service for persons of all faiths and religions to pray for a prosperous and healthy new year for the nation.

This virtual event was recorded at the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Heaven’s Touch International Ministries and includes praise and worship, remarks by the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, Honorable Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport drs. Rodolphe Samuel, songs, prayers and much more. We look forward to hosting a successful virtual event and we thank our collaborators for their invaluable contributions. For further information kindly contact the Department of Culture via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tune in Live: Facebook.com/SXMGOV and Government of St. Maarten YouTube Channel.

Airing on Sint Maarten Cable TV Cable 115 at 8:00 p.m.

 

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Dutch more willing to be vaccinated against coronavirus, 75% say yes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An increasing number of people in the Netherlands now say they are willing to be vaccinated against coronavirus, according to a new survey by Ipsos on behalf of broadcaster NOS.

Around half the representative group of 1,000 people said they would definitely be vaccinated and 25% said they ‘probably’ would. Earlier Ipsos surveys put the willingness to be vaccinated at 66% and 69%.

One in 10 people said they did not know, 8% would definitely not be vaccinated and 7% probably not. Those opposed to vaccination said they were worried about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, as well as side effects.

The over-55s are far more willing to accept being vaccinated than the under-35s. The government vaccination programme will be rolled out nationwide from Wednesday, with the first symbolic jab being given to a nursing home worker in the Veghel mass testing centre.

Nursing home and acute care staff are first on the vaccination list, to be followed by nursing and care home residents. By January 18, 25 large vaccination centres should be fully operational nationwide with capacity to vaccinate 66,000 care workers per week.

The government hopes that all healthcare workers and nursing home residents will be vaccinated by March, when the housebound and over 60s come on board. The Volkskrant has published a diagram showing when different population groups will become eligible for the vaccine, the type of vaccine and location for the jab. 1

(DutchNews)

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Can a foundation represent the people of St. Maarten in Court to obtain their decolonization?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Is it possible for a foundation to represent the people of St. Maarten in court to obtain their decolonization, the Pro Soualiga Foundation queried in a press statement on Tuesday.

“A good way of answering this question is by looking at the activities of the Dutch Foundation Urgenda.  On December 12, 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) handed down a landmark sentence that drew international attention.  In that verdict, the Dutch Supreme Court sided with Urgenda Foundation and ordered the Dutch State to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands. 

“This verdict inspired activists from around the world to take legal action to force governments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  (It is worth bearing in mind that The Dutch Supreme Court's verdict regarding Urgenda Foundation's legal action was subsequently published in the Harvard Law Review.)

“The Dutch State had argued that Urgenda be declared inadmissible (niet ontvankelijk) which is a standard defense deployed by lawyers around the world.  (US President Trump has repeatedly run into this legal roadblock in his attempts to have the courts reverse the results of the 2020 elections.)  However, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Urgenda Foundation was admissible and does represent the interests of the inhabitants of the Netherlands who are being threatened by climate change. 

“A lower court had earlier ruled that even if certain groups were against the position of Urgenda Foundation that could not prevent the foundation from filing a collective action.  It would appear therefore that a foundation can indeed, even in the face of opposition from certain elements, file legal action to obtain the decolonization of the people of St. Maarten,” the Pro Soualiga Foundation press release concludes.

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Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Relations to meet for the January 2021 virtual IPKO

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Relations (CKAIR), will meet on January 5, 2021. The closed-door committee meeting which was adjourned on January 4, 2020 will be reconvened on Tuesday at 10.00 hrs. as an open session.

The agenda point is: Preparation virtual IPKO on January 6 and 7, 2021.

Due to measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus (COVID-19), the House of Parliament is only allowing persons with an appointment to enter the Parliament building. 

The parliamentary sessions will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the internet www.sxmparliament.orgwww.pearlfmradio.sx and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten

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