PHILIPSBURG--Justice Minister Egbert Doran on Thursday issued guidelines on political manifestations, rallies, parades, and placing flags, billboards and posters, which will be enforced for the campaign period leading up to the January 9, 2020, parliamentary election. This decision will be effective retroactively from November 21, to January 15, 2020.
“Political campaigning is inextricably linked to the freedoms of speech, association and assembly, which freedoms are protected by the constitution and treaties,” said Doran.
According to the guidelines document, these rules are based on the Constitution of St. Maarten, the General Police Ordinance, and the National Ordinance on Public Manifestations.
For political promotional material, no permit is required for placing political billboards, banners or other campaign materials such flags, posters, and signs on, over or along the public roads, provided that these materials are not used for commercial purposes.
Political parties and their candidates must ensure that these objects “are placed in such a way that no hinderance or danger arises for traffic and pedestrians,” and the materials may not be placed on road signs, traffic lights, or roadblocks, and may not block the view of public order cameras.
Political parties and their candidates must also ensure that their political campaign materials are removed no later than January 13, 2020. Failure to do so will risk that it will be removed at the cost of the identified political party.
Political parties and their candidates intending to hold a political event at a public space must notify the Justice Minister in writing prior to the public announcement of that event and at least 48 hours before it is held.
In notifying the minister the notification must state the name and address of the party holding the event; the purpose of the event; the date on which the event is to be held and the times of its commencement and closure; the location and, where applicable, the route and the closure location; where applicable, the composition of the group; and the measures the party organising the event will take to promote its orderly progress.
Doran warns that an event could be prohibited if the required notification is not issued in time and if the required information has not been provided or proves to be incorrect or incomplete.
An event will be prohibited for the protection of health, in the interests of traffic, or to prevent or control disorder. A political event may also not obstruct the operations of churches, courts, hospitals, schools and polling stations.
According to the guidelines, political parties and their candidates are responsible for the safety and well-being of the participants in and visitors to their events, and must “take adequate measures to that end.”
During an event no alcoholic beverages may be given or sold to persons in a state of intoxication or to persons under 18 years old. Political parties and their candidates must ensure that there are sufficient sanitary facilities at the location of this public event.
If an event makes use of amplified sound, the volume should not be “of such that the residential peace of local residents is not unacceptably restricted.”
Political parties and their candidates are responsible for cleaning the location of the event immediately after the event’s end.
According to the guidelines, political parties and their candidates must follow the instructions given by the police in the interest of public order, safety and security.
Lastly, all political parties must appoint a contact person for the police and other emergency services.