Philipsburg; Dr. Nilda Arduinlooks forward to the decision of the Constitutional Court on Friday 13 May 2016 at 2:00 PM after two postponements, pertaining to arguments brought forward by the Ombudsman to the Court in September 2015 for review of the National Ordinance Integrity Chamber. The session is open to the public.
Rights of the People
While Sint Maarten is established and governed by the rule of law, the rule of law has to in return respect the fundamental rights of the people. As such the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten is tasked with the role of guardian of the Constitution, and sees to it that the rights of the people are safeguarded.
Integrity is a matter of the entire community. Whereas the Ombudsman fully supports and applauds a law designed to regulate in particular the integrity of public authorities, the Ombudsman argued that the Integrity Chamber Ordinance as approved by Parliament and ratified by Government, insufficiently guarantees the legal protection of the public in the process of an investigation. The Integrity Chamber has been afforded far reaching powers in order to effectively execute its tasks. These powers include the authority to investigate actions that establish a crime, to issue fines and even prison sentences. Such matters are regulated by criminal law.
Executing these powers by means of an administrative law, without sufficiently providing the guarantees that the criminal law constitutionally demand, should be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. The clear lines that should exist between administrative and criminal authority are according to the Ombudsman blurred. Considering that third parties, not being the subject of an investigation, are obligated by law to cooperate with the Integrity Chamber in the execution of its task, in the interest of the general public the Ombudsman requested review of certain facets of the Integrity law by the Court against the Constitution.
Protection of the People
The Ombudsman stressed that the law should include protection of the people against the danger of random searches in gathering information to establish integrity breaches by those in authority. This is the core of the grievances brought forward by the Ombudsman to the Constitutional Court for review against the ratified National Ordinance on the Integrity Chamber.
The Ombudsman observes that such matters were recently also tabled and discussed at a workshop on the topic: ‘Human rights challenges now: The Ombudsman facing threats’, attended by Dr. Arduin in Barcelona.