Published On: Sat, Sep 9th, 2023

Judge De Kort urges St. Maarten to update legislation

PHILIPSBURG — Judge Mauritsz de Kort has urged St. Maarten to update its legislation during the installation of St. Maarten’s new judge Gerben Drenth. De Kort mentioned in particular the Bailiff’s Ordinance, the Code of Criminal Procedures and international treaties about children’s rights.

When St. Maarten became an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010, the legal basis expired for the previously valid rules of order for bailiffs. “This means that there has not been a proper legal position for bailiffs in St. Maarten for thirteen years,” De Kort said, adding that it is in this respect the only country in the Kingdom. “That is a pity because it can damage the profession.”

De Kort, who is the President of the Common Court of Justice, noted that there is a draft Bailiff’s Ordinance in the pipeline. “I would very much like to thank the Minister of Justice for her efforts in this regards. It is now up to the government to send the new ordinance to the Parliament for handling and approval.”

De Kort further mentioned the Code of Criminal Procedures In Aruba it probably goes into effect per January 1, 2024. “Curacao and St, Maarten unfortunately lag behind,” De Kort said. “It would be a pity if St. Maarten – especially as the leader in the field of Constitutional Law – does not act properly on this.”

Failing to update the Code would put judges in a position whereby they’d have to provide guarantees for investigative actions by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “In turn, that could have consequences for the legality of criminal investigations and for the admissibility of the prosecution. The new Code wants to provide a better assessment framework for judges about the authorities of the prosecution and in the end a better legal protection for suspects.”

De Kort added that the new Code also provides much better guarantees for the rights of victims.

“The hopeful news is that the concept for the updated code is at the parliament for handling. Less hopeful is that it has been there for quite some time. I therefore call upon the parliament to take its legislative responsibility, to handle the draft code and to give its citizens the legal protection they deserve.”

The third example of legislation that needs updating are global treaties for the protection of children. In St. Maarten only the international treaty for the protection of children and the original 1961 Treaty of The Hague apply. The most recent version of the latter treaty from 1986 does not apply in St. Maarten.

De Kort pointed out that other international treaties do not apply either. He mentioned treaties dealing with child abduction, adoption, alimony and the protocol about acknowledgement. “Unfortunately these do not apply on this beautiful island for the protection of our children. Please let’s try to do something about his.”


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