St. Maarten Prime Minister: Lack of procedures after screening ministers

POSTED: 05/30/13 11:32 AM

St. Maarten – There are no procedures in place to deal with ministers when information surfaces after they have taken office that would have disqualified them for the position, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday in answer to questions from this newspaper. “I don’t want to call them loopholes, but a lack of procedures. Many of them will be dealt with as we go along. In the absence of such procedures we have found ourselves with dilemmas on our hands.”

This newspaper published a series of four articles in March that establish the close and personal ties between then Justice Minister Roland Duncan and the prostitution industry. The stories confirmed rumors that had been circulating in The Hague for more than a year, but they remained in St. Maarten without immediate consequences. Reaction from the cabinet or from Members of Parliament never materialized.

“There are laws in place in terms of the information you are supposed to provide,” Wescot-Williams said. ”But what if you do something outside of that, who looks into it and who takes the first action? Those procedures and processes have not been worked out yet,” Wescot-Williams said.

Since the screening process is confidential, it is not possible to ascertain whether Duncan reported his prostitution-interests to the Prime Minister before taking office or not. In both cases there would have been an obvious problem.

Wescot-Williams, confronted with this position, replied: “In such a case – I am talking in general – the question is: who goes back and says, wait a minute, that story is so compelling that I need to check what was filed. That is why I mention these types of procedures. If something is done by an MP or a minister while the laws are clear and there is a transgression, who takes action? Those processes are going to come as we look at the lack of procedures.”

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