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Focus 2014 on victim-support and Jasap: St. Maarten’s Prosecutor Office works on system for swift justice


St. Maarten – The Public Prosecutor’s Office wants to focus in 2014 on supporting crime-victims and on JASAP: Justice As Soon As possible. Departing Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos writes this in the introduction of his office’s annual plan for next year.

A Jasap-pilot will start this year. “In 2014 the pilot must result in a standard operating procedure with the objective to handle many simple criminal cases in a short time in consultation with the police, the suspect and his attorney, the victim and the rehabilitation bureau,” Mos wrote.

The prosecutor’s office intends to pay more attention to the actual processing of its output: the execution of verdicts and conditional punishments or conditional dismissals, the report states. “This ought to give the judicial chain a credible breech, something that has been missing for too long.”

To achieve these goals, the prosecutor’s office depends on people and resources from other partners in the judicial chain. “Without them the prosecutor’s office is confronted with a mission impossible and in that case a credible judicial chain will for the time being remain an illusion.”

The prosecutor’s office intends to put more emphasis on law enforcement in 2014. It will for instance ask the tax inspectorate to provide more cases of citizens and businesses that fail to file a tax return. “The objective is to hurt them financially, on top of the tax debt,” the report states. “If someone does not pay, imprisonment will follow.”

The prosecutor’s office will ask the police force and the Detective Collaboration Team RST regularly for an update about criminal organizations (gangs) in St. Maarten. This will enable the prosecutor’s office to decide based on current information against which gang it should start an investigation.

The prosecutor’s office ordered this year the compilation of a CSV-list (CSV is jargon for criminal organization – ed.) of all active criminal organizations in St. Maarten. Based on this list drugs gangs will also be identified. The focus is not only on the cocaine trade, but also on soft drugs like marijuana. “The Crime Analysis of St. Maarten shows that especially marijuana-use is widespread and results in school dropout and gang-forming,” the report states.

The prosecutor’s office intends to work together with community police officers. “They will know after some time where the rotten spots are. This information will be used to throw up a dam against those who sell marijuana for a profit to young and underprivileged people through swift and decisive intervention.”

The report notes that it is necessary to react tough to a situation wherein new players come into the drugs market to fill a power vacuum that stem from successful actions against large drugs gangs. “That is sometimes accompanied by a violent struggle.”

Another focus point for 2014 is youth criminality; community police officers will play an important role in this field because they will be able to provide information in an early stage about circumstances that could cause youngsters to choose a criminal career.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office will handle all youth-cases through its youth officer Karola van Nie. Speedy handling of these cases is important: “Especially for young people it is important to get a swift judicial reaction to their behavior.”

New in the fight against youth criminality are the so-called TOM-hearings that have already been introduced this year. TOM is a Dutch acronym for Transaction Public prosecutor’s Office. Minors that qualify for a conditional dismissal are invited to these hearings.

The compliance official at the Ministry of Education will get the status of extraordinary police officer in the course of this year, the report states. This will enable criminal prosecution for school absenteeism.

Bron: Today Newspaper, St. Maarten

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