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Justice minister Richardson: Council of State response not advice St. Maarten requested

WEDNESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2013

PHILIPSBURG–The response from the Kingdom Council of State to government on its queries about the integrity investigation ordered by the Kingdom Council of Ministers is “not an advice” as requested by St. Maarten, says Deputy Prime Minister/Justice Minister Dennis Richardson.

Richardson told The Daily Herald on Tuesday that in his opinion the response received from the Council of State via Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges could not be classified as “an advice” as requested by government. He added that it was more like the Council of State was steering clear of the issue about which St. Maarten has raised objections.

The Council of State’s response will be reviewed with Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, among others, so St. Maarten’s standpoint can be recorded and sent to the Council of State, said Richardson.

He declined to make public the contents of the response from the Kingdom Council of State, preferring to leave it until the advice is made public in the coming weeks.

The response from the Council of State also will be published by government in the near future in the National Gazette (Landscourant). Richardson does not anticipate that this publication will take very long.

The Kingdom Council of Ministers approved in late September a Kingdom decree instructing Governor Eugene Holiday to carry out an integrity investigation of government and its operations. St. Maarten objected to the use of the governor’s regulation by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to launch this investigation.

Government, via Wescot-Williams and Richardson, always has maintained that the objections are not against the investigation, but on the procedure and regulations used by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to push through its decree.

Government has established since then a six-person Integrity Investigation Committee to carry out a broad investigation into all facets of its operations and people. That committee will hold its first meeting in December. No work has started so far on the investigation with which the governor has been tasked by the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

Government still must complete its contract with Transparency International for a National Integrity System Assessment.

Source; The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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