On Thursday, July 8th, 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson made a visit to the Victim Support Services (VSS) of Curaçao where she was welcomed by Director Milouska Everitz. This visit was one of keen interest for Minister Richardson as VSS Sint Maarten is in the final phases of being established for Sint Maarten.
In her opening statements during the Central Committee meeting of Parliament concerning the 2021 Budget, Minister Richardson highlighted the great significance of establishing a VSS for Sint Maarten. VSS is currently budgeted for and once established as a foundation, this will allow the board opportunity to apply for additional financial assistance to operate optimally.
VSS-Curaçao shared a presentation with the Minister that outlines their structure and operations which included the various services that the agency assists their clients with. Statistics of cases and how they work with partners in the community such as the police, prosecutor, Court of Guardianship and many more were also part of the presentation. Similarly, to the other justice related agencies that Minister Richardson visited during her week in Curaçao, VSS-Curaçao also expressed enthusiasm to work as partners with Sint Maarten.
Minister Richardson continued her trip with a visit to Bon Futuro Prison where she met with Prison Director Mr. Urny Florán. Mr. Florán has held this position for the past twenty years, managing over 300 plus members of staff and a population of over 400 inmates. The discussions covered various areas of policy, personnel and operations. Mr. Florán expressed the good relationship Curaçao Centre for Correction and Detention once had with Sint Maarten. He offered assistance to help improve Sint Maarten’s Prison with its operational challenges. Most naturally, Minister Richardson is elated for this willingness and intends to utilize these levels of support to the full extent.
During the visit, Minister Richardson was taken on a tour of the sewing center, library, computer center and agricultural field. She also visited the area where inmates with mental challenges are housed. There she interacted with a few persons from Sint Maarten.
Minister Richardson’s work visit to Curaçao concluded with a visit to the base of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. There, she engaged in discussion with the Commander of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee Lieutenant General Hans Leijtens and the Dutch Customs regarding the development of the plan of approach as Sint Maarten moves forward with strategic programs to better manage our borders, over stayers and what sort of goods are being shipped in and out of Sint Maarten.
Minister Richardson stated, “As this work visit comes to an end, I express my heartfelt appreciation to the Honorable Prime Minister and interim Minister of Justice, Gilmar Pisas for his warm welcome,
hospitality and support in every area of justice where interest was expressed. My support staff and I also express much appreciation to Mr. Rigoletto Thode, Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Justice who assisted with much of the planning and schedule of the work visit in Curaçao. Mr. Thode is a key figure who made this work visit a complete success and we are truly grateful. I’d also like to thank all the departments and agencies that we engaged and had fruitful discussions with. They welcomed us with open arms and have shown complete willingness to work with Sint Maarten again.