Two new prosecutors have been appointed at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Recently, the work of Prosecutor Marleen Overmeer has been taken over by Antoinette Doedens and Henk Jan Starrenburg. Overmeer has been handling criminal cases on Statia and Saba for the past five years.
Since 2010, the Prosecutor’s Office Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba has been charged with, as it is called, “the criminal enforcement of the rule of law.” Doedens and Starrenburg are currently visiting the islands together with Chief Prosecutor Henry Hambeukers to get themselves acquainted with the police teams, the Island Governors and both communities. They will now regularly be working on the islands.
In recent years, the number of criminal investigations on the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands has increased sharply in number and severity, the Prosecutor’s Office stated. The increased workload has led to an evaluation and reorganisation at the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The Prosecutor’s Office has evaluated how the work for each of the islands can be optimally implemented. Optimal in the sense that not only the criminal cases are handled as well and as quickly as possible, but also for it to be as open and accessible as possible to citizens on the islands. This way, people with questions, complaints and in need of contact about a criminal case can get answers as simply and as best as possible,” it was stated during a press conference at Statia’s Prosecutor’s Office in Fort Oranje.
Most of the 12 employees of the Prosecutor’s Office are working on Bonaire. At that location most of the people and facilities are concentrated so that case files can be finalized as quickly as possible.
The Bonaire office will be further professionalized by increased automation and additional staff. This way, the small-sized office should be able to work as efficiently as possible and be able to handle a sudden extra workload due to mayor and complicated investigations, for example into homicides, it was said.
The Prosecutor’s Office is hopeful that with a more efficient organization suspects, victims and complainants will be assisted more expeditiously. “The Office of the Public Prosecutor is of the view that the speed of action is extra important in small communities,” it was stated. As usual, criminal court sessions will continue to be held on Saba and Statia. A prosecutor will be traveling to the Windward Islands to attend these sessions.
Chief Prosecutor Hambeukers said the fact that the main office is in Bonaire should not lead to people on the other islands having to make too much of an effort to get in touch with the Prosecutor’s Office.
Therefore, front offices will be opened in Statia and Saba which will be staffed by a permanent employee, who will be constantly accessible and who will work alternately on both islands.
The front offices will be opened from January 2, 2016. The opening hours will be announced as soon as possible. Melissa Spanner will be joining the Prosecutor’s Office’s workforce on Statia.
Outside opening hours, clients can get in touch with a staff member at the office on Bonaire via a “state-of-theart” video link that can also be used when the front office is not occupied. Outside operating hours appointments can also be made using this video link.
“This feature is also used in the Netherlands for contacts between citizens and the police in areas where there are no police stations. The experiences there are quite good. Apparently, through the video connection, citizens really feel they have had a personal contact; a personal contact whereby the communication is much better than, for example, through their email or phone,” Hambeukers explained.
In consultation with the judicial partners: the Island Governors, the Chief Commissioner of the Dutch Caribbean Police Force KPCN, the Chief Public Prosecutor of Saba and St. Eustatius and the Attorney General, it was agreed that the new method will be constantly monitored and formally evaluated in a year.
The Daily Herald.