photo: OLB

KRALENDIJK – The first ombudsman of St. Maarten, Nilda Arduin, will leave her post in October this year. She has done various pioneering work for the department, which her successor will have to continue with.

In recruiting the new man or woman for the post, the function lacks a good profile. “Our legislation can be strengthened with, for example, a good profile for the function. Who should be put on that position? That can be clarified.”

Arduin was sworn in on October 10, 2010, when St. Maarten became an autonomous country. “Setting up of a new institute is a challenge. We have in placed in a ten-year strategic plan. We have included that a thorough evaluation be carried out after 7 years. This is now ongoing.”

The biggest bottlenecks have been resolved, said Arduin, such as how the ombudsman is financed. The key points of awareness that the ombudsman was able to achieve: “What does the ombudsman actually do? The term propriety is not a household term. That indicates what the bottlenecks are.”

Arduin is chairman of the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CarOA), who held the biennial conference in Bonaire this week. Majority of the Caribbean islands have an ombudsman, 25 in total. Nineteen of them are members of CarOA.

Unfortunately, despite legislation Aruba has still not appointed an ombudsman. Arduin and ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen of the BES, who also attended the conference, worry about Aruba not having an ombudsman: “Those who want to file a complaint are inconvenienced by the absence of an ombudsman. This is not desirable. It is very important for citizens of Aruba, because there are serious things going on”, according to Van Zutphen.

Ombudsman Association (CarOA) at Bonaire. Photo: OLB

Reviewing legislation
The members at the conference agreed on a joint effort to resolve the challenges and bottlenecks. “Everyone has to review the legislation closely. Certain ombudsman from the Caribbean could not attend this week, because their respective governments did not permit them to. If that’s the case, then you must rely on your own support”, said Van Zutphen.