PHILIPSBURG–The Law Enforcement Council, in a recent report on the issue of information exchange between organisations of the judicial system, finds Government’s indecision on investment in a software-based system for police worrisome.
The Council indicated that there is much ground to be covered in this field. Organisations forming the judicial system handle their own information cautiously while sharing of information is faced with a lack of mutual trust.
The lack of discipline to register information still seems structural. Worrisome is the delay of a Government decision for investment in an information system that will facilitate effectiveness of investigations, noted the Council.
Currently, searching and matching of data is still done manually, while there are systems available that have highly automated this process. The Council recommends stimulating the cooperation within and outside of the judicial system and investing in adequate means, technical facilities and information technology (IT) infrastructure.
The report commends the work of the Info Unit and advises maintaining the process of improvements being made there. Furthermore, it recommends establishing a working process to collect, register and process information.
The Council sees possibilities to make the process of interregional information exchange within the Kingdom more efficient. The need for requesting legal assistance does not always seem necessary. A lack of guidelines, policies, structure and knowledge leads to this aspect remaining vague and relatively unexplored.
The question of whether the process can be made simpler dominates the discussion on this subject.
Another issue that was brought up in the report is that the law prescribes the exchange of information between the Kingdom countries as mandatory, while the organisations themselves consider this as a voluntary option. The Council advises analysing these findings and establishing a structured framework within the Kingdom.
In St. Maarten, the exchange of information on an international level is considered more important than with countries within the Kingdom. This is particularly so for the French side of the island. The effects of the recently-enacted treaty between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands specifically established that the judicial cooperation between Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin would be monitored with interest.
Contrary to the exchange within the Kingdom, the international exchange of information is not mandatory; mutual relations are therefore a key aspect. The Council has found that the international relations are well established and considered as mutually beneficial.
Although acknowledged in the judicial system, information exchange does not appear to be structural, while guidance and statistical data are missing. The Council emphasises the importance of working towards a structural framework.
The full report, including an executive summary, can be found on the Council’s website