PHILIPSBURG–The personnel stop for the police and the Pointe Blanche prison “must be lifted,” Justice Minister Edson Kirindongo told Parliament on Wednesday. A personnel stop has been in place for all Government Ministries and departments since 2015.
The lifting of the personnel stop will allow the Justice Ministry to employ more police officers and prison guards, both of which are severely needed to boost safety and security in the community and at the prison.
“As outgoing Minister of Justice I want to highlight to Parliament the importance and the need for Justice to be able to hire additional personnel and complete the necessary upgrades to buildings and equipment in order to maintain the level of safety that our inhabitants as well as our visitors expect,” Kirindongo told Parliament when the plenary session on the draft 2017 budget started on Monday.
The Justice Ministry was granted NAf. 1.4 million more for a total of NAf. 74,187,115 million in 2017. However, “this will not be enough for us to perform the necessary upgrades to our Police Force, prison and other departments,” he said.
The Ministry of Justice, he explained, requires a minimum of NAf. 90 million annually to meet its budgetary needs.
The Progress Committee on Plans of Approach has voiced concerns about the country’s ability to develop the prison to the required standard. Not meeting the requirements as outlined in the Plans of Approach in a timely manner could possibly lead to the Kingdom Council of Ministers taking measures such as, for example, issuing an instruction.
Kirindongo said much had been published in the newspapers about the Justice system in the last few months, particularly about the Police Force and the prison, and “the perceived failure to achieve any progress in these departments considered crucial to our society and overall quality of life.
“I say ‘perceived failure’ because despite our financial constraints, the management of, for instance, our Police Force and our National Detectives has managed to make progress in many areas where upgrade was needed,” Kirindongo said.
The Ministry of Justice has finalised negotiations with the unions regarding provisions concerning the legal status of Police Force staff. The draft documentation is now awaiting Government approval. Similar progress has also been made for the legal status of those working at the National Detectives. The Ministry is now working on the documents for the staff of the prison.