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Public prosecutor investigates 'Illidge-tape'; St. Maarten prime minister urges public not to get caught up in sensationalism

PRESS RELEASE 

 ATTORNEY GENERAL ORDERS INVESTIGATION

 House searches  conducted after video footage has been secured.

Yesterday Attorney General mr. D. A. Piar ordered the start of an investigation by the Special Investigation Unit into possible corruption made visible on video footage that was published by the press.

ORCA persbericht 090313

ORCA persbericht 2 100313

 

MONDAY, 11 MARCH 2013

PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Sunday urged the public not to get caught up in sensationalism that could be damaging to the country.

She was at the time commenting on the ongoing investigations being conducted concerning the tape that shows Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Illidge accepting money from Bada Bing manager Jaap van den Heuvel

“We can’t prevent public sensationalism, yet as a country it would be good for all of us and for our island to allow matters to be solved by those who are called in accordance with the laws of the land, and who are the ones to investigate and establish the facts,” Wescot-Williams said in a statement on Sunday.

The Prime Minister said she also expected that the government of St. Maarten would be respected, especially by members of other governments within the Kingdom. “We respect them and we expect the same treatment from them. We made much effort to ensure that the democratic foundation of our country was a solid one, in ensuring that the laws governing any situation and any governmental agency, especially those charged with investigating and prosecuting, were put in place, as well as the checks and balances of one on the other and within their own realms,” she said.

“It is unsubstantiated at this time to hammer on the guarantee function of the Kingdom, which in my opinion is absolutely not in play, because the system of guaranteeing proper governance and integrity is governed and upheld by our laws. There is absolutely not a situation where any of the agencies is non-functional, or laws are being trampled on or circumvented, as would be required to even think, let alone speak of something like the Kingdom exercising its responsibility in accordance with Art. 43 of the Charter of the Kingdom.”

She said she was aware that it was not the government of The Netherlands that had been “making these derogative statements” about the government of St. Maarten in general, “but on the other hand, I keep my statement general concerning respecting the government and people of St. Maarten, as we respect other governments and government members in the Dutch Kingdom.”

Wescot-Williams also spoke at length about the National Security Service of St. Maarten (VDSM). She said this was a service established by organic law and promulgated in 2010 (PS 2010, no.4)

The National Security Service of St. Maarten, while a political responsibility of the Prime Minister, operates independently of government to effectively ensure compliance with the laws governing the agency, to ensure the credibility of the young service with its international peers and to be as effective as possible in averting or mitigating any threats to St. Maarten’s national security.

“Political involvement in the daily operations of the service would undermine the capacity of the service to execute its tasks effectively in a national and international setting,” she said.

“The National Security Service is duty-bound to look into all matters relating to threats to the national security of St. Maarten. In the execution of its tasks, I must emphatically stress that it is not standard operating procedure for the National Security Service to share information with non-governmental organizations or individuals. It is therefore not for the National Security Service to hand over information to third parties outside of the law governing the service,” she said.

“The service has thus far performed its duties in accordance with its obligation to uphold the law under all circumstances. The ordinance governing the National Security Service does allow for the service to seek cooperation and support from either peer organizations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and/or other reputable security and/or intelligence agencies. Such requests for assistance or support must, however, comply with the laws of the country receiving the requests and must, of course, be in adherence with our national laws.”

She said information imbedded in such a request could only be shared by the agency of the receiving country with the explicit permission of St. Maarten’s National Security Service. Unauthorized sharing of information would lead to the agencies discontinuing their cooperation and thus weakening the ability to ensure the integrity of St. Maarten’s administrative apparatus, its democratic order and the safety or interest of St. Maarten and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Furthermore, a similar form of cooperation exists when collaboration is needed from local law enforcement agencies. The necessary permissions must be granted for the National Security Service to seek the cooperation of a law enforcement agency or vice versa. “Notions that the National Security Service of St. Maarten may not have acted in the interest of this country are therefore refutable and threaten the very fabric our young democracy,” she said.

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