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• dinsdag 21 september 2021 22:47

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Chaos at Curaçao’s Intelligence Service

Minister Donner
Minister Donner

WILLEMSTAD–There appears to be complete chaos at the Intelligence Service Curaçao VDC, one of the most important institutions of the country where confidentiality and integrity are of paramount importance. Information on internal investigations directly related to the controversial screening process of the members of the current MFK/PS/MAN cabinet is being leaked to the press.

Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte and his government were not successful in removing the pretense of manipulation with the screening process last year, as a result of which there was no complete screening of the candidate ministers and that some of the current ministers are actually not suitable for the ministerial office.

The situation regarding the VDC has become so bad that Minister Lia Willems-Martina (PS) complained that it seems there’s a leak in the Council of Ministers because information is being sent directly from the council meeting to the media. The reports in the media contain information that was discussed during the meeting, or expressed in recent correspondence with the Public Prosecutor, VDC and the Governor.

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Everything revolves around the questionable role of department head Lourens Pietersz, entrusted with the factual investigation of the Intelligence Service into the candidate ministers. Pietersz was seen in the party building of the United People’s (UP) party during the election campaign on St. Maarten last year.

The then VNA (Intelligence Service Netherlands Antilles) had not sent Pietersz to St. Maarten. He apparently had contact there with then candidate Curaçao ministers Gerrit Schotte and George Jamaloodin (both of MFK), with whom he supposedly maintains strong ties. He also may have provided information on the screening process during this trip.

Upon his return to Curaçao, the head of the VNA (now VDC) Edsel Gumbs had conducted an investigation. The Supervisory Committee questioned Pietersz about his trip to St. Maarten.

From this investigation, it appeared that Pietersz had accepted an airplane ticket to St. Maarten from third parties and acted against the department’s protocol. Subsequently, then Minister of Justice Magali Jacoba (PAR) had dismissed Pietersz.

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Another important point is a possible criminal investigation against the VDC official. This causes a difficult working situation within an institution such as the Intelligence Service.

In spite of this, on October 20th last year, ten days after the installation of the new MFK/PS/MAN government, Schotte promulgated a National Decree to appoint a new committee of three persons consisting of Alvin Daal, Mirto Murray and M. Eliza to question Pietersz again.

Parliament member Glenn Sulvaran of the opposition party PAR had immediately queried this decision, suggesting that the only reason to question Pietersz about the same fact again was to reappoint him to the service.

In addition, the newly installed Government of Curaçao had denied Gumbs access to his workplace and dismissed him twice, subsequently appointing former Lieutenant Governor of the then Island Territory of Curaçao Lisa Dindial as interim head of VDC. Both times Gumbs had taken government to court and twice he had the law on his side.

It now turns out Gumbs had lodged complaints against Pietersz, VDC official Imogen Rosario, Island Receiver Alfons Trona and the director of the Social Insurance Bank SVB Philip Martis with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in November and December last year.

Trona and Martis had leaked confidential letters, thus acting against the law, according to Gumbs. The prosecution recently reported that the contents of the letters had not revealed any state secrets that would endanger national security.

Meanwhile, government continues its intention to allow Pietersz access to VDC again so he can resume his work at the Intelligence Service. Gumbs was ordered to allow Pietersz access to the service before, but had put this to the Supervisory Committee.

The latter has the rule that the order from the government is postponed until the committee has given its opinion. Despite this rule of the committee, Pietersz reported to the Intelligence Service.

Consequently, Rudy Sint Jago, who is acting interim head of the VDC while Gumbs is on holiday, was called for an urgent conversation with the Minister of Finance Jamaloodin and his colleague of Public Health Jacintha Constancia (both MFK).

Minister of Justice Elmer Kadé Wilsoe (PS) was not present during this conversation. In view of the state of affairs, PS-leader Helmin Wiels had instructed Wilsoe not to get himself involved in this matter.

During said conversation, the interim head of the VDC apparently had drawn the ministers’ attention to the rules and the protocol of the institution, stating that they should get in touch with Gumbs. Sint Jago was upset after the conversation with the ministers and had subsequently reported sick.

However, during the weekly press conference of the Council of Ministers, Constancia stated there was no question of the government bearing down on VDC. She did admit that VDC is in a crisis now because the head and interim head of the institution are absent.

The minister further stated that the Supervisory Committee had to decide on a temporary successor for Gumbs at VDC until Schotte returned from his business trip to Colombia.

The MFK-ministers had also called in Sidney Dorothea, the second interim head of VDC, but he is not authorised to take certain decisions, according to Constancia.

During the conversation, the official was reportedly threatened with compulsory leave. However, according to reports, this was revoked later on.

Article 43 of the Dutch Kingdom Charter states:

1) Each of the countries must arrange for the realisation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, legal security and sound governance.

2) Guaranteeing these rights, freedoms, the legal security and sound governance is an affair of the Kingdom.

Bron: The Daily Herald

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