On Wednesday, November 13, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson handed out certificates to the participants of the first administrative law enforcement course on Saba.
Police officers of the Caribbean Netherlands Police Force (KPCN), military police workers of the Royal Marechaussee who also work in basic police care on Saba, and civil servants working in the public order and safety domain at the Saba government took part in this course. In total 13 persons took part in the workshop and eventually eight persons received their certificate. The workshop was created and provided by the legal advisor of the Public Entity Saba Mr. Gerald Simmons–de Jong.
The idea for the workshop was a result of agreements made in the local three-party meeting on Saba between the head prosecutor, the police chief and the Island Governor. Similar to municipalities in the Netherlands, the Saba government can issue regulations through local ordinances. Enforcing these ordinances using the administrative law however, is different than criminal law enforcement.
Cooperation between police enforcers and the public order and safety workers at the Saba government that fall under the governor is imperative when talking about the enforcement of local administrative laws. That is why the Public Entity Saba took the initiative to facilitate this course.
There is a difference between administrative measures that the Island Governor or the Executive Council can take and criminal law steps that the police and prosecutor can take. During the workshop, police officers learned about these differences. Topics came up such as what a so-called “last onder bestuursdwang” (order under administrative enforcement) and a “last onder dwangsom” (order under fine) are, and how they differ from criminal fines issued by the police or prosecution.
Participants also received a crash course on the different local ordinances on Saba, the division of tasks, the role of the Island Governor in public order and safety topics, the respecting of norms, administrative enforcement and the various options of measures that can be taken. Several local regulations that were discussed during the workshop were the traffic ordinance, the general local ordinance, the supervision on dogs, noise disturbances, drugs and car wrecks.
The workshop was unique for the region. In the Netherlands, some municipalities are providing similar courses regarding the enforcement of the relevant local regulations (algemene plaatselijke verordeningen APVs) as well. In these municipalities too, the close cooperation between police and the municipality is emphasized.
According to a December 2018 ruling of the Council of State of the Netherlands (Raad van State), municipalities can take administrative action against violations of local regulation matters next to steps taken by police and prosecution. The interest of the community justifies the imposition of sanctions by the local administration. Administrative enforcement however, must be in line with the goals of the Public Entity Saba. It should not become an extension or a replacement of the public prosecution office and police. It is important that all the justice related stakeholders, including the Saba government, work together in public order and safety matters.