The Daily Herald writes that the Prosecutor’s Office in the Caribbean Netherlands was faced with a large increase in investigations into more serious and debilitating forms of crime, the Bonaire- based organization said in presenting its annual report over 2014 and its annual plan for 2016.
“Our inflow in recent years has almost doubled and the prosecution was faced with an increase in investigations into more serious and debilitating forms of crime. There is a very high workload and increased vulnerability,” according to the Prosecutor’s Office. The small scale of the Prosecutor’s Offices in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba plays “a very negative role” in the functioning of the various organizations in the justice system and leads to capacity restrictions and lack of flexibility,” it was stated.
Where serious crimes are concerned, the focus will be put on human trafficking, money-laundering and international drug trafficking, the latter also in relation to Bonaire International Airport and the long coastlines, also known as the “blue border.” Outlaw motorcycle gangs and crimes committed by their membership will be another focal point of the Prosecutor’s Office, it was stated.
There are also signs that criminal money is being invested in real estate in the Caribbean Netherlands. “We want to pay more attention to economic and financial crimes and money laundering,” the Prosecutor’s Office said. To this effect, the cooperation between the prosecution and the Tax Service Caribbean Netherlands and the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service FIOD will be continued and intensified.
“We also want to work -more than currently is the case- on a perpetrator oriented approach in addressing violent crimes that are frequently committed, such as sexual offences, robberies, crimes committed by juveniles, burglaries of homes and businesses and drug dealing on the islands,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
In its 2014 annual report, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Caribbean Netherlands provided insight and accountability on what has been done and was undertaken in that year.
This not only included crime fighting, but also policy issues, such as the functioning of the criminal justice system, which was examined by the Law Enforcement Council.
“We also pay attention to outlaw motorcycle gangs and the problems with the enforcement of compulsory education [on Statia due to lack of a compulsory education officer – Ed.],” it was stated.
Where the figures are concerned, it emerged the Prosecutor’s Office has dealt with 43 suspects in Statia last year, compared with 67 in 2013, mainly thanks to a repressive approach of a group of notorious burglars.
Judicial partners have agreed to address safety in Saba and Statia in the coming years, especially in the local districts and to focus on a joint approach of problem youths on these islands. In Statia, the number of juvenile suspects was 19 per cent of the total in 2014, which is equal to 2013. Fourteen suspects were led before a judge in Statia in 2014, against 16 the year before.
The percentage of violent crimes in Saba increased from 40 per cent of the total number of criminal cases in 2013 to 48 per cent in 2014. These mainly concern (alcohol-related) violence, both in Saba and in Statia.
Fewer cases of domestic violence were reported with the Prosecutor’s Office last year. Via the imposition of aggression-regulation training, the judicial partners seek to improve communication and behaviour awareness among perpetrators of these types of crimes.
The figures indicate low numbers in financial crimes, but in reality, burglaries and thefts are frequently reported to the police, but investigations often do not lead to suspects being referred to a prosecutor, it was stated in the report.
Already in 2013, the Prosecutor’s Office was an advocate of re-enforcement of the cooperation between the police, the Royal Dutch Marechaussee and Customs in Saba and Statia. Since 10-10-10, Marechaussees, who are responsible for border control, are no longer also auxiliary Customs officers. As a consequence, they are no longer allowed to control the import of drugs or illegal arms. “Unfortunately, up until today it has not been possible to close a covenant between the Marechaussee and Customs,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
On Saba, 24 persons were led before a judge in 2014. One of these cases concerned a dispossession claim, in which the Court of First Instance seized US $160,316 in criminal money. “Part of this sum has been paid and real estate has been seized,” it was stated.
A highlight for prosecutors and police investigators was the launch of the so-called “Country Garden” investigations in Bonaire, after two persons were killed in January 2014.
In March 2015, two men were convicted in this case to 24 years, following the Prosecutor’s demand. Two other suspects were acquitted by the Court, also on the Prosecutor’s recommendation.
“Everyone realized that Country Garden was an investigation of a nature that had to be done, and in which concessions could hardly be put on the agenda.
” The scale of the investigations, however, unveiled the limited resources of the Prosecutor’s Office’s organization, which led to making choices. “We must, together with partners, look at what we can and cannot do,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.