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St. Maarten Bar Association pleads for national youth policy


PHILIPSBURG–Dean of the St. Maarten Bar Association Remco Stomp called for a national youth policy of Country St. Maarten in his speech during Friday’s extraordinary sitting of the Joint Court of Justice.

Referring to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children, Stomp said he wanted to be a “whistleblower” where it concerns the lack of a coherent system for the protection of children and juveniles in St. Maarten.

Stomp said this in his address during the installation of Koos van de Ven and Katja Mans as new Judges at the Court of First Instance on Friday.

“The situation is appalling,” attorney-at-law Stomp said, pointing at the fact that there is no youth policy, no juvenile judge and also no juvenile criminal law, as the new penal code has not yet been implemented.

The Dean also chided the fact that St. Maarten does not have a youth house of detention. “Juvenile and adult detainees are not being separated. Government and the Prosecutor’s Office are also unhappy with this situation, but in the meantime the status quo still exists,” said Stomp.

The Dean pointed at alternative types of punishment, such as community service and electronic detention as a possible solution.

Stomp also made a plea for more homes to shelter youths, as well as for more social workers. “We need those homes to prevent youths from hanging out on the streets.”

He said that more funds need to be made available, especially since funding agency AMFO has ceased its operations.

“There is a lack in policy and cooperation,” according to Stomp, who pleaded for more cooperation.

Acting Solicitor-General Taco Stein said it is the Prosecutor’s Office’s ambition to invest strongly in upholding the law among youths. “The hand that rocks the cradle holds the world. We must prevent our youth from becoming crime’s possession. Especially now, since we’re building our country and that [youth, Ed.] is the capital we have to work with,” Stein said in introducing Youth Prosecutor Karola van Nie during the Court sitting

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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