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Country St. Maarten will be ‘Fettin’ for Carnival 2011’

page5a169PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Carnival Foundation (SCDF) board has chosen the slogan for Carnival 2011: "Country St. Maarten Fettin' for Carnival 2011." As has become tradition, the selection of a slogan was done via a public competition. SCDF received 106 submissions via Facebook and e-mail in a three-week period.
In the end, the SCDF settled on the submission by Chananda Rombley-Delaney, a teacher at Oranje School. She received a season pass to Carnival 2011.
SCDF President Stuart Johnson said the theme had been chosen, after much debate, to historically record that Carnival 2011 was the first one after St. Maarten obtained its new constitutional status.
"We contemplated leaving the word 'country' out of the slogan, since you just say St. Maarten, not Country St. Maarten," Johnson said. "But we wanted that historic perspective; we thought that distinction was important. Also, the word 'fettin' is an old-time word to indicate having a great time. And there is nothing bigger than our Carnival fête. So we have history fully ingrained in our slogan as well as fun and excitement."
The slogan will be used on all Carnival 2011 promotional material, including the schedule, posters and Website.
"On behalf of the SCDF we would like to thank everyone who participated in the slogan competition. Carnival is the people's business and we were very pleased to see how many people came up with terrific slogans," Johnson said.
SCDF is also gearing up to release its official 2011 schedule, which is basically complete.

Parliament approves Parlatino, local permanent commissions

page4a167PHILIPSBURG-- In Tuesday's general session, Parliament approved the names of the Members of Parliament (MPs) to serve on the eight permanent local parliamentary committees and the ten commissions of the Parliament of Latin America.

Chairing the session was Deputy President of Parliament Leroy de Weever in the absence of President Gracita Arrindell.

Members of the committee on Justice are MPs Patrick Illidge (independent), Jules James of the United People's (UP) party, Leroy de Weever of the Democratic Party (DP), and George Pantophlet (NA).

Serving on the committee for Finance are Silvia Meyers-Olivacce (UP), Roy Marlin (DP) and Frans Richardson (NA).

MPs James, De Weever, Illidge and F. Richardson will be on the committee for Economic Affairs, Tourism, and Transportation.

The Education, Youth, Sports and Culture committee will have as members Meyers-Olivacce, Leroy de Weever and Louie Laveist (NA). Meyers-Olivacce is expected to be appointed chair of this committee based on an already-established political agreement, as has been made for all committees.

Members of the committee on Public Health, Social Development and Labour are De Weever, Laville and Dr. Lloyd Richardson (NA).

MP R. Marlin is expected to head the committee for Kingdom Relations and Inter-Parliamentary Affairs. He's joined on the committee by Dr. Ruth Douglass (UP), William Marlin and Illidge.

Serving on the committee for petitions are Douglass, R. Marlin and Hyacinth Richardson (NA).

Also approved were the MPs to serve on the Parlatino commissions with two changes. Two commissions had three MPs interested in being a part, but the regulations only allowed for two members. To settle the issue of membership the matter was put to a vote by De Weever.

He appointed an ad hoc election committee comprising MPs Roy Marlin and Dr. Richardson. However, during the distribution of the ballots, Dr. Richardson - who was one of the three members who want to serve on the Health commission and Human rights, Justice and Prison Policies commission - struck a compromise with the deputy president of parliament.

De Weever reported to Parliament, after disbanding the ad hoc committee before voting took place that Dr. Richardson had agreed to an alternating membership on the health committee. De Weever will serve on the Health Commission for the first two years of this parliamentary term while Dr. Richardson will serve for the next two.

As for the second commission that had three members interested, Dr. Richardson retracted his name.

Commenting on the alternation of membership for the Health Commission, MP Romain Laville said that Article 43 of the Parlatino rules states that a MP who is not the member of a commission can still participate in the meeting and deliberation, but cannot vote.

Present for the Parliament meeting were MPs De Weever and Roy Marlin of DP, Silvia Meyers-Olivacce, Laville, Johan Leonard and Dr. Ruth Douglass of UP, Patrick Illidge (independent), Frans Richardson, Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Louie Laveist.

Appeal court upholds ruling in favour of Myriam Haar

~Complaint filed with European court pending~

MARIGOT--An appeal court judge in Guadeloupe recently upheld the October 23, 2008 guilty verdict against two UGTG union members in the so-called Club Orient Resort hostage case of April 21, 2006 where the General Manager's secretary at the time, Myriam Haar, was assaulted and held against her will in a dispute over the intended firing of an assistant manager.

The appeal ruling was handed down on November 9 but Haar only received written confirmation of it from her lawyer, Maître Paris, last Friday, November 26.

Haar indicated her landmark victory should set a precedent by helping to curb the power of the unions in the future, changing the way they operate and in particular with regard to liberties a union feels it can take against ordinary citizens.

One union member received a 15-day suspended prison sentence and the other a one-month suspended prison sentence. The court also sentenced the pair to pay some 6,000 euros in legal fees and damages. They appealed the verdict but were not in court on October 5 to hear the judge's decision, nor were they represented by a lawyer.

"What was important to me was that the ruling was a prison sentence, more important than the money that I will receive in damages," Haar told The Daily Herald. "Also we now have a court ruling that forbids this kind of action and attitude. Before, it was taken for granted that that was what unions did, even in France. But I have never accepted that anybody would keep me against my will anywhere, not even for two seconds, and that counts for any human being. There are other ways to resolve conflicts."

Haar added the ruling, which many people on the French side have been waiting to hear, is especially significant because company managers, hotel managers, the hospitality industry in general now have a solid legal basis from which to say "you cannot go beyond this point and if the line is crossed you face the consequences."

"In France unions have always been given much too much leeway. Can you imagine if the director of Peugeot was taken hostage in the middle of Paris? What era are we living in? I think people are entitled to have labour unions and to strike if they feel strongly enough but there is a way to do it in a civilised way. Nowadays in Europe unions are regarded more as partners. Grievances are discussed without resorting to physical assaults."

She noted a complaint on the matter has also been filed against France with the European Court of Human Rights for allowing the situation to get this far.

"Before they look at our case they will want to know how the local court has ruled. Now we can send them the ruling and see if it will be accepted."

The ordeal in 2006 caused Haar to lose her job and her memory, and she spent some three years in therapy.

Cubans request asylum with Minister of Justice

~Lawyer seeks their release~

PHILIPSBURG--The nine Cubans who are being held at the local police station for over two weeks have now officially requested asylum.

Attorney-at-law Remco Stomp, who is representing the Cubans, delivered their signed asylum requests to the Government Administration Building on Tuesday.

Pending their request, Stomp has sent a letter to Minister of Justice Roland Duncan stating that the situation at the police station is becoming unbearable for the Cuban asylum seekers, among whom are several young women. Their lawyer has requested the immediate release of the Cubans, who had arrived here illegally.

According to Stomp there are no indications that a short-term solution is in sight for the Cubans.

"Deporting them back to Cuba is no option for they have clearly indicated that they want asylum. That means that they fear to be prosecuted once they return," Stomp said in press statement.

"I have indicated before that government could ask for assistance with this matter from bigger nations with more resources. The United States, for instance, but also Holland have committed themselves last year to intensify their support and cooperation in the field of immigration. Fact is that nothing seems to be happening and my clients are sitting in the dark, occupying space that is seriously needed at this point and time on St. Maarten. Therefore they should be released while waiting for government to find a proper solution," Stomp said, who stressed that this was not a standard case of illegal migration.

"I have indicated to the Minister that I expect my clients to be out of the police cells before 12:00pm, [today] Wednesday, December 1. In case they are still there, I will immediate file an injunction at the local court for their release. We can't go on like this," Stomp said.

Gibbs writes open letter to Minister Hortefeux

MARIGOT--First Vice-President Gibbs has written a letter to Minister of the Interior, Overseas and Territorial Collectivités Brice Hortefeux to express his concern about the security situation in St. Martin following the murder of Pascal Delalosa.

"The notorious absence of security and the no-less-troubling increase of delinquency and crime appear in the forefront. Criminal acts follow each other at a particularly disquieting pace. Aggressions on persons (sometimes armed) and burglaries are skyrocketing," Gibbs wrote.

"I am more concerned about a 'sleeping' Collectivité which is leaving the State with the entire responsibility of maintaining order in St. Martin. I don't subscribe to that theory and have already requested that the number and intervention areas of the Territorial Police be increased.

"I nevertheless believe the State has its share of responsibility in the matter. St. Martin is part of the Republic and must be respected and treated like any other national territory in terms of security and public order.

"Since the beginning of 2009 President Frantz Gumbs has promised a video surveillance system for sensitive areas. Nearly two years later we still do not have this system installed. We should not overlook that St. Martin lives only from tourism. In this respect we cannot afford to be an unsafe destination blacklisted in the American blogs and chat forums.

"The palpable atmosphere of anxiety and fear emerging from this situation and the media repercussions on the markets are truly a disaster for our economy.

"The socio-professionals have drawn the attention of the State authorities for years. They took initiatives, proposed actions, participated in all the work sessions on the topic without the successive State authorities in St. Martin seriously considering the true measure of this question.

"It is true we only had a Sous-Préfet when we were a Commune and today as a Collectivité only a Préfet Délégué who does not enjoy the full authority of a Préfet of a region. Yet we are repeatedly told that those means are sufficient. It seems obvious they are not. It is a denial of reality, I have already said, shared by Territorial authorities.

"Minister, this letter is a cry of distress! I solemnly request that you give special attention to the state of St. Martin to prevent the insecurity on the island pulling us down into a permanent economic and institutional collapse."

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