draft law was not discussed in any Council of Ministers.
PHILIPSBURG:--- The draft media law that was sent to the parliament of St. Maarten for debate was sent since 2011, therefore it was deemed outdated and needs to be sent to the education committee of parliament and the media council that is currently in place to further discuss the law before parliament could further debate the draft law.
Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs informed the parliament of St. Maarten that the draft media law was never discussed in any of the Council of Ministers meetings, therefore no decisions were taken by any Council of Ministers. Further to that the draft law is outdated and there needs to be more discussions which would include the stakeholders (media houses). Minister Jacobs said that the current draft law is repetitive since several of the articles are covered in the country’s constitution and the penal code.
Member of Parliament Frans Richardson proposed that the draft law be sent to the “education committee of parliament” and the media council and it should also follow the procedures like sending it to the Council of Advice and the SER before it can be debated in parliament. MP Richardson said he want this law in parliament because in his view the media cannot be allowed to print what they want because they supposedly have a free pen. He said another thing he wants to see happen is to have the live programs that are aired on radio stations be recorded. MP Richardson referred to the live programs that he said are not being recorded for reference. MP Richardson further stated that he wants media representative to report to Parliament in order for them to have a lively debate with parliament. “I am not afraid of the media, they write what they want on elected officials now let us see how they will debate with us, this is not a means to muzzle the media but it is meant for putting in place some regulations when it comes to the media.”
Some members of parliament felt that the media law is needed on St. Maarten especially to control internet media and bloggers.
MP Maurice Lake said he felt that the draft law should follow the procedures before parliament deals with it. He said he often speaks about the blogs because he is a victim of the blogs but felt the proposal presented by MP Frans Richardson is the way forward. The proposal by MP Richardson was seconded by MP George Pantophlet.
Chairlady of Parliament Sarah Wescot Williams explained to Members of Parliament and the Minister Silveria Jacobs that the draft media law was sent to Parliament late 2011 since the constitution of St. Maarten states that the country could take over some of the laws of Netherlands Antilles. She said all the laws that were not adopted was sent to the Parliament for handling and it is only now that the draft media law is being handled. Wescot Williams said when St. Maarten obtained its status in 2010 they had one year to adobt the laws of the Netherlands Antilles and draft media law was sent almost nearing the deadline, she said that parliament signed off on agreeing to handle the draft law on October 10th 2011, the deadline date. MP Theodorge Heyliger asked several questions as to who sent the law to Parliament for debate and when it was sent. He also felt the draft law is very much outdated, and needs amending so that it could include the internet and blogging.
The Parliament of St. Maarten have decided that more research be done, committee meetings and hearings must also be held with stakeholders, while the Council of Ministers will have to take a decision on the draft media law when it is amended to fit the current media trend of today.