Tuesday, Jul 23rd

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Editorial - Let’s see some action

It appears Curaçao may be headed for a cabinet crisis over a surveillance cameras project (see related article). Coalition party "Pueblo Soberano" (PS) is not happy with the way Justice Minister Nelson Navarro (PAIS) handled the 6.2-million-guilder closed circuit television (CCTV) system purchased from Chinese company Inspur and has requested a public meeting of Parliament on the matter, which takes place Friday.

The issue has relevance for St. Maarten because of existing plans for a similar security camera network on the Dutch side, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. While the idea has been thrown around in different scenarios on numerous occasions for many years, so far its execution remains forthcoming.

Parliament discussed the current proposal with Justice Minister Dennis Richardson at the end February, but the meeting was held behind closed doors due to the "sensitive nature" of information provided. For this reason the people are yet to learn details of what is now on the table, while crime continues to be a serious problem.

Most would agree with the need for more security, but certain aspects – for example, regarding safeguards to ensure the correct use and storage of the recorded data as much as possible – warrant clarification, not to mention the taxpayer's money to be spent. Although the cameras obviously will be installed outside there are still privacy considerations.

Even with, for example, body cameras utilised by police in other countries strict requirements are being set and control mechanisms created to protect the public. In that sense it's interesting to note that the new Penal Code that went into effect on June 1 prohibits filming persons inside buildings without making them aware, which means many businesses and offices on the island now have to post such notices.

It goes without saying that a video monitoring system is much more than hanging up a bunch of cameras and connecting them to a recording device. A proper structure needs to be in place with the necessary checks and balances also to prevent losing court cases based on shortcomings in the future.

Having pointed that out, it's high time to realise what has been in the pipeline already for so long. Enough talk, let's see some action.