Jean-Jacques Urvoas, the first Minister of Justice to make an official visit to Saint-Martin

The Minister of Justice arrived at the end of the morning in Saint-Martin from Martinique. This visit is part of a trip in the West Indies which will last several days; he must go to Guadeloupe at the beginning of next week.

Jean-Jacques Urvoas is the first ‘Keeper of the Seals’ to make an official visit to our territory. In May 2015, Christiane Taubira came as part of a presidential visit. However, she bent the protocol by visiting the courthouse when it wasn’t scheduled in the official program.

This morning, Jean-Jacques Urvoas spoke for an hour with all the representatives of the judiciary including the judges of Saint-Martin, after having attended the presentation of the site for the courthouse’s extension in the premises of the former territorial library. The project which is expected to start in the coming months and last for two years.

"This first meeting has helped me to understand what were the difficulties the judges were facing here in Saint-Martin and see what resources and technical tools could be provided," commented Jean-Jacques Urvoas while stressing that he hadn’t come "with a sack full of gifts". "The needs must be demonstrable", he said.

The Minister thus favored the importance and the need "to refine the legal tools", especially those enabling a better cooperation with the Dutch side. “We need bilateral tools”, he added.

During the discussions with the judges, the complexity of the two legal systems and the problems related to the island’s bilingualism and dual nationality were indeed highlighted.

This afternoon, the Minister went to the prefecture to talk about the penitentiary issue. In the middle of the afternoon, he signed a convention in order to allow suspects to be held in custody in Saint-Martin, until their presentation before the criminal court for a summary trial.

The Minister will spend one day in Saint-Martin privately and will go to Guadeloupe on Sunday.




Estelle Gasnet