Minister Duncan responds to minister Spies’ comments on Justice issues


PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Justice Roland Duncan is not pleased about certain comments made recently by Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies, who spoke about the need for improvements in information communication technology (ICT), the prison and police capacity.

Spies' comments were made at a press conference here Tuesday at the end of her talks with members of the Council of Ministers.

On ICT Duncan said there currently was no agreement, because the way the Dutch were proposing it should be handled was not favourable for St. Maarten.

He said he didn't need advice on issues surrounding the prison because he was working on the matter daily. Although money and manpower are limited, he expressed appreciation for the civil servants who are out doing their jobs daily.

Having recently hired 21 officers from The Netherlands, Duncan said recruitment was on hold because of budget cuts. He also is giving preference to training local persons versus accepting more officers from The Netherlands. He said he welcomed help from wherever he could obtain it, but only when he was in need.

Duncan responded to questions on his work-pace by saying limited funds were the main issue. "I'm in a hurry myself. Anything I can do today I will do," he said.

As reference, he said he was ready to hire 50-60 persons, but this was being postponed until June because of financing. To train more officers locally he needs classrooms and other facilities.

Duncan said his overall conversation with Spies had been "not too pleasant," but he was confident in his position.

Responding to regular media criticism, he said he hoped the policies and laws he had helped put in place would be durable and based on sound logic when he left office. If the laws are durable, he believes the "complaining" will end at that time. If his work should not hold up, he hopes the country will have a new Minister of Justice who can do a better job.