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Author Topic: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten  (Read 4924 times)

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Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #11 on: Thu, Aug 31, 2006, 21:05 »

An addendum --

SMX Private Eye

Quote
GREAT BAY--Four suspects in the case known as the "gay-bashing incident" appeared in court yesterday. However, the Court of First Instance has postponed the case until Tuesday, October 31, since one of the victims still has to be heard.

...

Defense lawyers of all four suspects requested the judge to suspend their client's detention, but both public prosecutor as well as Judge Rik Smid opposed this, explaining that all suspects are facing serious charges and suspending their detention would send the wrong message to the community.



Daily Herald

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Four persons have been arrested in this case: the men M.S.J. (21) of Guadeloupe, A.H.D. (19) and G.R.C. of French St. Maarten, and the woman M.F.D. (18) of French St. Maarten.

Stein said all four would be charged with attempted murder and manslaughter, as well as with the lesser count of causing severely bodily harm to their two victims.
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Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #10 on: Thu, Aug 24, 2006, 03:27 »

Gay beating trial delayed so U.S. victim can testify

Quote
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (AP) -- The trial of four men accused of attacking two gay American tourists has been postponed so that a victim can return to testify in a St. Maarten court.

In requesting the postponement, prosecutors said Tuesday that finances kept Ryan Smith, 25, from traveling to the Caribbean country in time for the trial. Chief prosecutor Taco Stein told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his office would help pay for Smith's return for the trial, which is scheduled to resume October 31.

"The government of St. Maarten has also stated its willingness to assist," Stein said by telephone. "After all, this case was not good promotion for the island."
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Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #9 on: Wed, Jun 14, 2006, 09:48 »

From the New York Blade:

Quote
The main suspect in an attack on two gay New York tourists that left the victims with serious head injuries has surrendered to authorities in St. Maarten, the chief prosecutor said Tuesday.
   
The man identified only by his nickname, "Duracell" was arrested Monday after turning himself in, becoming the fourth person detained for the beatings on St. Maarten, the Caribbean island's Dutch side. He is accused of striking the victims with a tire iron, said Taco Stein, chief prosecutor.

Yet another suspect surrenders.

While this is, of course, a welcome development, it does little to improve my opinion of the state of affairs on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. Waiting for one's criminal suspects to surrender themselves is a rather novel approach.
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Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #8 on: Mon, May 15, 2006, 10:41 »

Although I am quite nearly a week late in posting this, further progress has been made in this case.

Quote
Chief Prosecutor in the Windward Islands Taco Stein confirmed Monday that a male Antiguan national residing in French St. Martin and a female French St. Martin-born suspect had been arrested in connection with the brutal beating of two American tourists in the Maho area on April 6.

A third suspect had already been detained on April 24. For the purpose of the investigation the identities of the suspects have been withheld.

"We need a few more days before we can give the names, as we are looking for two others," Stein said.

Stein also reported that investigators were very close to taking possession of the vehicle in which the suspects had been travelling, which was used in a bid to "knock down" one of the victims.
source

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Windward Islands Chief Public Prosecutor Taco Stein believes recent reports about the investigation shifting to the island's northern side might have prompted the sudden up-swing in the case. "If you serve time on the French side, you don't stay on the island, you got to Guadeloupe," Stein said, pointing out a much publicized fear of many French residents have of being jailed in Guadeloupe.

The suspects' family members phoned in and reported their relatives' involvement to the Gendarmes who arrested and later handed over the suspect to Dutch authorities, Stein said.
source

So, it seems that while progress has been made, it has not in fact been made by the police. Instead, perpetrators are surrendering themselves to the Dutch authorities because they fear the penal institutions employed by the French side of the Island. Hardly heartening. A recent anonymous letter to a Sint Maarten paper highlights the truly lamentable state of police affairs on the island.

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Why are the police in Sint Maarten so ineffective? There may be a host of reasons ranging from lack of resources to outright callous indifference. This may be news to the international press but for those of us living on the island we all know, if you get robbed, raped or beaten you can expect little from the police unless you are somehow connected.

Of course in the Jefferson case it took some time before they realized who he was, and then they started jumping. Perhaps now that the plight of Ms Brandie Black has hit the ABC website they will begin to investigate her case in earnest. One thing that the police on the island do not lack however is authority, they can brandish that in spades when they have a mind to. They seem almost a power unto themselves, invulnerable and unchallengeable. A recent chamber of commerce seminar seeking answers to the crime situation was snubbed at the last minute by police top brass because of a trivial excuse. The organizers should have known better, it is not their style to face the public.

Ms Black and Mr Jefferson should know that the general public of Sint Maarten denounce the crimes that they have been subjected to, and there is a great deal of sympathy on the island for them. It is only logical however to assume that there is a wast amount of people, visitor and citizen, who also have been wronged twice, first by perpetrators and then at the hands of the Sint Maarten police. Victims who never come to our attention because they do not have media access to air their stories, are no less worthy of a decent response from our police.

It may be unfair, but at the end of the day that this reflects badly on our Honorable Lieutenant Governor who after all, is the real chief of police. It is up to him that we must respectfully pose the question, "What are we going to do about it?"
source
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Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #7 on: Mon, Apr 24, 2006, 08:54 »

St Maarten Private Eye has posted a remarkably thorough collection of links to the coverage of this story. The blogger also has something to say on the matter. His chief point is, of course, the reason I sought out his blog in the first place.

Quote
I want to straighten out a few things here, particularly for those from other websites and blogs following the story, most of whom know basically next to nothing about the island or the people that live here. Dick Jefferson, one of the victims, wrote a great response letter to the Today newpaper and you all should read it; he is on the right track.

Actually the only thing I would add is that the police are the same with us residents too. Jefferson has it right in that a justified reason behind any possibile boycott of the island would be because the Police Force isn't capable or able to provide safety and service to visitors.

I say "justified reason" because the island is not homphobic nor unsafe for gays, far from it compared to many other islands, or even many cities and towns within the US. Yes, we have the religious nuts who rant about it being evil and that the island will be hit by a hurricane or earthquake if gays are allowed to visit our island. Other islands have the same nuts and I think it was Pat Robertson or someone similar who said the same about New Orleans/Katrina and the planned Gay Parade.

It has become clear that while St Maarten has it's fair share of bigots, as do most all places, the island does not (at this time) deserve a reputation for being especially homophobic. Nor should the remarkably inadequate response of the police in this incident necessarily be attributed to bias against gays. But what is also immediately evident from the lengthy list of links provided by St Maarten Private Eye is that the police force on the island isn't adequate for anyone, regardless of orientation, regardless of their status as tourist or resident, and regardless of the type of crime committed against them.
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K6

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #6 on: Tue, Apr 18, 2006, 08:13 »

I am afraid, you are right - the dollars and euros can be almost as persuasive as a gun barrel. In the very moment the person in question realizes that you are poor or unvilling to spend your money in his/her shop or restaurant, the friendly mask is dropped and you receive your "proper treatment".

In Colombia,a country I know fairly well,the thickness of your wallet is the decisive factor in assessing the value of your life.The picture movie
"Romancing the Stone" is a pretty accurate depiction of the place.On one hand,you have there the most handsome and horny young men I
have ever met.But intimate relations with them,though very easy to establish,occur in a context of danger and adventure similar to the one of
the above mentionned movie.

K6

Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #5 on: Tue, Apr 18, 2006, 05:09 »

This situation is still developing. While I have been quite harsh regarding the Director of Tourism, it is my understanding that she has taken over investigation into not only the crime, but also a probe into the police conduct. These are positive developments. Still, that a Director of Tourism should have to take such action astounds me.

A local blog, St. Maarten Private Eye, has proven to be my most comprehensive source of information on this matter. The following rough translation of a recent Dutch newspaper story appeared among the comments there:

Quote
Philipsburg - The Saint Maarten police have arrested two suspects in relation with the investigation of the homo-beatings. That was announced Saturday by trusted sources involved with the investigation.

The two suspects were French Side residents and they were arrested at the cafe Bamboo Bernies in Philipsburgh (Bamboo Bernies is in Beacon Hill). They were passing by while police was investigating the area.

The main suspect still hasn't been detained. Supposedly he's in hiding on the French Side of the island. "On St. Maarten the progress of investigations are hampered because the island is divided by two countries", prosecuter Taco Stein said. "That's why the investigation is being executed with extra precaution, thus taking in more time as usual". Unfortunately there is no extradition treaty between France and The Netherlands.

Behind the scenes there has been a whole team formed of authorities, ex-politicians and members of the judicial system to lead the investigation on the right tracks. The motive of this move is not only to solve this case, but to prevent that St. Maarten gets bad publicity, such as the case in Aruba after the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

The American media has been exposing attention on the incident that occurred on St. Maarten. Jefferson himself works for CBS tv-station. Smith is still in the hospital in Miami and isn't yet able to talk. (ANP)

I could add that so far as I know, Mr. Smith remains in critical condition, and it is possible that he may have permanent brain damage, so he may never be able to talk.
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Mogul

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #4 on: Tue, Apr 18, 2006, 04:49 »

[..] In very homophobic places,and Colombia is one, people can be very kind to you so long as they perceive you as a source of income.But I am afraid that it is their only reason for being kind. [..]

I am afraid, you are right - the dollars and euros can be almost as persuasive as a gun barrel. In the very moment the person in question realizes that you are poor or unvilling to spend your money in his/her shop or restaurant, the friendly mask is dropped and you receive your "proper treatment".

The cited text of Ms Regina La Bega resembles more an advertisement for the island than an appropriate answer - e.g. I missed the informations whether the officers responsible for the inappropriate treatment of the complaints were sanctioned, and if not, why not?

The described reaction of the police officers painfully reminds of the typical pattern on continental Europe decades ago - these pattern is not entirely overcome yet, but is not a typical one anymore. Education of police officers and punishment for inadecuate behaviour is very important - unfortunately, it can't prevent the assaults themselves.   
"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!" Salvor Hardin

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #3 on: Sat, Apr 15, 2006, 06:47 »

Ms Regina La Bega, the Director of Tourism, St. Maarten has, as one might imagine, been fielding a great many letters of concern about the state of affairs in St. Maarten. Admirably, she responds to many of them. One such response has been posted at the Archbishop Simpson's blog.

Time will tell how their investigation into these matters proceeds, but I cannot help but have the impression that the Director's response has been entirely inadequate.

Her concern is perhaps and precisely tourism,pink money being her central preoccupation in the matter rather than gay rights.In my part of the world,and towards the end of the 90s,they discovered that local gays travelled abroad *five times more* than heterosexuals.So,those who are in the business of tourism - either travel agencies or governments - do not want to loose the corresponding income,even should they not mind our loosing our security or our lives.In Colombia where I travelled with two gay friends back in 1993,we had in our package a choice of four different restaurants where to take our supper.One,we discovered on our first night in Colombia,was for hethro couples and families.Its staff treated us very rudely,making us understand that we were not welcomed.They were obviously familiar with gay customers and tourists,and had no trouble identifying us as such despite our quite ordinary outward appearance.The three other restaurants didn`t bother our presence,and one even treated us very kindly with candlelight meals,and providing transportation from our hotel.In very homophobic places,and Colombia is one,
people can be very kind to you so long as they perceive you as a source of income.But I am afraid that it is their only reason for being kind.

K6

Feral

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Re: Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #2 on: Sat, Apr 15, 2006, 05:20 »

Ms Regina La Bega, the Director of Tourism, St. Maarten has, as one might imagine, been fielding a great many letters of concern about the state of affairs in St. Maarten. Admirably, she responds to many of them. One such response has been posted at the Archbishop Simpson's blog.

Time will tell how their investigation into these matters proceeds, but I cannot help but have the impression that the Director's response has been entirely inadequate.
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Feral

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Dutch Rep on Gay Rights Doesn't Extend to St Maarten
« Reply #1 on: Thu, Apr 13, 2006, 21:28 »

Some days ago two gay men were viciously attacked on the Caribbean island of St Maarten. While all such attacks are heinous, they are common enough throughout the world that the details of specific attacks no longer stand out. One would, however, expect a certain level of decency from the Dutch possession of St Maarten. The rule of law that pertains in the Netherlands, however, does not seem to be practiced much on this island.

The beating of two gay Americans with tire irons in this Dutch Caribbean island was "barbaric and inhumane" and the attackers will be punished, St. Maarten's top tourism official said Wednesday.

Indeed, beating people with tire irons is most assuredly barbaric. What is also barbarous is declining to promptly investigate such actions. According to Richard Jefferson (one of the victims still able to speak coherently):

"To have somebody pull a tire iron out from inside their car and go after you is just crazy," Jefferson told CBS. "They joke it was the friendly island. It was very unfriendly the other night. The car backs up and this little guy gets out with this tire wrench. And I'm going 'What the hell's going on around here?' And, quite frankly, that's the last I knew...So I called the police station and called the detectives bureau, and the detective on duty said, 'We have no report of anything happening.' So I was going, 'This is crazy. At least four of my friends called it in.'"

His head now bears a huge scar, dozens of stitches, and a titanium plate implanted by neurosurgeons, and at least four people reported the attack. Mr. Jefferson also spoke with ABC news:

"The police response has been no police response," he said. "The best way I can explain the police response is when the detective finally came after three phone calls to get my report, he asked, 'Why should I even bother talking to you? Are you guys even going to file charges? You are just going back to America.' Police were totally indifferent to the situation, the crime, or to the seriousness of it."

"Two days after the incident I had not heard from the police," Jefferson said. "Yet I heard from the Department of Tourism, which told me they were taking over the investigation. I couldn't help but laugh. It is ludicrous that the tourism department is trying to prosecute and become a police department. They are not the experts in police work; they are the experts at getting tourists to the island. It's like saying you got hurt in Miami and the Miami Chamber of Commerce is investigating your beating."

I can well imagine that St Maarten's Department of Tourism is concerned. People like me might get the idea that the Dutch half of the island is populated by tire iron-wielding barbarians and equally barbarous police officers who seem to think that such attacks are trivial.


(Edited to remove an error of fact.)
« Last Edit: Sat, Apr 15, 2006, 05:12 by Feral »
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