Opinion: Uphold the constitution

POSTED: 02/5/15 5:12 PM

Dear editor,

Why isn’t the constitution of Country St. Maarten being upheld by our parliament? My question has to do with a Member of Parliament still functioning as such even though he has been sentenced by judicial verdict to a term of imprisonment for the commission of an offence for which a national ordinance specifies that the court may also withdraw the right to vote as an ancillary punishment. Based on his sentence he is suspended by operation of law as a Member of Parliament, and should no longer be allowed to take part in meetings of parliament. The loss of membership of parliament and the suspension of a Member of Parliament are explicitly described in article 50 of the Constitution. It behooves the Members of Parliament to respect the constitution and to act accordingly. As a citizen of this country I am calling on the Chairperson of parliament to act post-haste to avoid further embarrassment to the institution of parliament.

Todd Peterson


Editor’s note:

Suspension of a Member of Parliament is in order if he or she is detained in pretrial detention. Dismissal follows after an irrevocable prison sentence of at least one year. Since the MP on question – Silvio Matser – has been sentenced to 24 months, of with 18 months suspended, and since he will obviously appeal the ruling, there are no legal options to dismiss him. The moral choice is of course a different matter.


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