Ombudsman Gwendolein Mossel during an earlier Parliament meeting. (File photo)
~ Responds to justice minister’s remarks ~
PHILIPSBURG--Ombudsman Gwendolein Mossel said on Friday that statements made by Justice Minister Anna Richardson regarding the ombudsman’s comprehensive investigation into the towing policy of the St. Maarten Police Force and its execution in practice show that the role of the institution is misunderstood.
Richardson had called the ombudsman’s report “a blanket statement,” “a bit remiss” and “a disadvantage to us as a country.”
“I have taken note of the statements … by the minister of justice and this shows that the role of this institution is misunderstood,” Mossel said towards the end of the continuation of a meeting in Parliament on Friday regarding her report.
“This investigation was an ongoing own-motion investigation launched before the present minister of justice took office. The present minister was informed of this investigation and was requested to provide the requested information as this had not been forthcoming,” Mossel said. “The minister indicated that she would address the issue. It is great when a minister is willing to cooperate with our investigations; however, that does not mean that we have to stop investigating.”
Regarding Richardson’s statement that the report had been “a blanket statement,” Mossel said this is not the case.
“It is a comprehensive report which includes real life experiences, bottlenecks explained and recommendations issued. The video is a highlight of what is stated in the report. It makes it tangible and inviting for the public to read the full report. This investigation covers years of infractions. The report provides the tools for the minister of justice to comprehensively address the matters at hand.”
The ombudsman said she looked forward to receiving a substantive response to the recommendations issued in the towing report.
The creation of a Philipsburg parking policy plan and a comprehensive towing policy with proper checks and balances were amongst the recommendations in the report. A short introductory video was also posted.