Sint Maarten to block Dutch anti-corruption team
Sint Maarten is blocking decisions from the Netherlands to counteract corruption and crime on the island and Dutch officials are no longer welcome on the island.
This is according to confidential correspondence between the island and the Netherlands, AD reports. In the correspondence Sint Maarten Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs states that he is personally shutting the doors to Dutch officials. "We have decided to no longer receive them", Gumbs writes in a letter to Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.
This conflict is the result of plans by Plasterk and Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice to take a hand in dealing with ongoing corruption and crime on the Island. This is part of the "Master Plan Strengthening Law Enforcement in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom", which was established in July. This plan also includes the other Caribbean islands Curacao and Sint Maarten.
As part of this the Netherlands plans to send 50 police officers to Sint Maarten early next year, where they will fight organized and subversive crime until at least 2017, the Volkskrant reports. The Dutch police will start recruitment for this team in September. This mission will cost more than 20 million euros, but is not coming from the Dutch police' budget, according to National Police Chief Gerard Bouman. There is also disagreement between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten on who this team should answer to. According to Plasterk, they will be under "Dutch control", but will also cooperate with the management of the island.
The island is also angry about the behavior of the Police Chief when he visited Sint Maarten in July. Bouman made it clear it clear that he no longer wants to cooperate with corrupt leaders on the island. Bouman also stated that everyone on the island knows that the gambling industry is in the hands of the mafia. “The criminal subversion of the community and the integrity issues are reaching extremely worrisome proportions”
The Home Affairs Minister told the Telegraaf on Thursday that the relationship with Sint Maarten is not in any form of crisis, but the island has a lot of work to do when it comes to when it comes to fighting corruption and crime. According to him, there is a good relationship between the Dutch government and the island. "Last week I spoke extensively with Sint Maarten's Prime Minister and Minister of Justice . And then we also concluded that occasionally everyone just needs to count to ten and look at what is in the best interest of the people on SInt Maarten."
Both Plasterk and Van der Steur have no doubts that justice on Sint Maarten wants to cooperate in the fight against corruption and crime. The ministers have a meeting with Sint Maarten Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson in the Netherlands on Wednesday.