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Procedures to be worked out to annul two clauses in St. Maarten Penal Code

SATURDAY, 20 APRIL 2013

PHILIPSBURG–A teleconference will be held in May with President of the Constitutional Court Judge Bob Wit, Ombudsman Nilda Arduin and Justice Minister Roland Duncan about the court’s approach to the petition filed by the Ombudsman for annulment of two clauses in the new Penal Code.

This teleconference call will help to define a procedure for handling the case as the law on the Constitutional Court does not outline procedures to be followed for cases filed with the court.

The Ombudsman had petitioned the Constitutional Court in January for annulment of two articles in the published Penal Code related to allowing organised animal fights (e.g. cockfighting) and had asked for a review of the article imposing higher penalties for crimes committed against tourists.

Implementing the revised Penal Code is not really hampered by the procedure involving the Constitutional Court, because the required executing ordinance for the law to take effect has not reached Parliament yet, according to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman has also requested a constitutional review of “some legal technical issues” pertaining to procedures followed/not followed by government. These are not used as grounds for annulment. The review is related to procedures for ratification date and notification to the Ombudsman, and amendments to a text approved by Parliament, e.g. a change to the numbering of the articles of law.

The numbering of the articles of the Penal Code as approved by Parliament differs from the version published by government.

The Ombudsman’s role is to review a law for adherence to the Constitution, not ordinary moral issues, which are not protected by the Constitution, Arduin stated January. “Animal cruelty is morally wrong, but also contravenes the charge to Government by the Constitution to take care of the wellbeing of animals.”

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