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Minister Duncan says St. Maarten Justice Ministry handling legal position of law enforcement agencies


~ Unions refuse to attend meetings ~

PHILIPSBURG–Justice Minister Roland Duncan said on Tuesday that his Ministry is busy dealing with “all issues” pertaining to the legal position of all law enforcement agencies, including the police.

His comments were in response to questions by The Daily Herald regarding recent statements made by the police union NAPB and the Windward Islands Civil Servants/Private Sector Union (WICSU/PSU), which also represents police.
Duncan said he had not succeeded in meeting with the unions to date with regard to police matters, “as they have so far not agreed to attend meetings that we have called with them.”

He said he would offer no further comments on this matter, as the details of the ministry’s business would not be dealt with in the press. However, he said this did not make “erroneous statements” published correct. “We do confirm that we run the Ministry of Justice and its agencies, and not the unions,” Duncan said.

In a lengthy statement on Sunday, NAPB accused Duncan of holding the St. Maarten Police Force “hostage” and of refusing to handle important matters relating to the force. The union said it appeared as though anyone who disagreed with the minister and his “hostile” manner of doing things would be “sidelined immediately and forever.” It also accused the minister of “might above right.”

“It is no public secret that this Minister of Justice is doing what he feels [like – Ed.] doing and is looking at the benefits and the big picture here,” the union said. “It is unfortunate how one person can hold such a prestigious institution such as the Police Force hostage all by himself and no matter which door you knock on, nothing is being done whatsoever. Then the sole question arises, what this honourable Minister of Justice has against the KPSM.”

The union said Duncan was still to sign a number of documents related to the police. It also had complaints about its members’ legal position.

The WICSU/PSU in a joint statement with the NAPB on Monday expressed concern about vehicles being used by the Police Force that they said were not roadworthy. It also raised issues such as the quality and quantity of police uniforms, which it said should be revisited as soon as possible, as well as the 16.3 per cent Windward Islands allowance (bovenwindse toelage) and the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

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