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Government launched full scale investigation on legal status of Back Street Store Employee.

~ Employer skirted the law and obtain Domestic- worker Labor Permit~

PHILIPSBURG:--- The Government of St. Maarten has launched a full-scale investigation into the legal status of the Sports Center employee who passed away in Colombia on Friday last week.

Prime Minister of St. Maarten Silveria Jacobs said that she took note of all the information that has surfaced since the death of the young lady. Jacobs said that APS from SZV along with the Ministry of Justice and VSA are busy with the investigation. The Prime Minister explained that due to the sensitivity of the case and the ongoing investigation she would not divulge any information.

SMN News posted some questions on Saturday that sparked a long debate on Facebook where several persons expressed concerns while others were against the post. However, based on information SMN News has obtained from the deceased prior to her death in Colombia, she worked at the store for some 15 years but was having difficulty getting a residence permit because it was denied by the Ministry of Justice. The young mother claimed that she had fallen in the store and was injured since she had no health insurance and was never able to visit a doctor such as a gynecologist.

Since then, the owner of the store has said that his employee is a highly paid staff that has Nagico Gold Health Insurance.

Questionable Labor Permit.

Based on SMN News investigations it turned out that the employment permit for the employee was turned down in 2017, the employer then skirted the law, this year and applied and obtained a labor permit from the Ministry of VSA for the employee as a domestic worker (Housekeeper) while she continued to work at the Back Street store. However, the Ministry of Justice denied the residence permit based on the fact that it is now considered a first-time request and the employee was not off-island during the processing of the request.

Further investigation shows that while the employer boasted that the employee was highly paid and was in possession of fully comprehensive health insurance from Nagico, it turned out that only a month ago the now-deceased employee purchased a NAGICO GOLD Health Insurance. While the deceased employee is a mother of a 12 old child, the child was not insured at Nagico or anywhere else.

Besides the lack of health insurance for the minor child is also not in possession of any residence permit there is some confusion that must be worked out with the courts and Court of Guardianship on the child's legal guardian now that the child's mother is deceased and her father is overseas.

On questioning Minister of Justice Anna Richardson on the ongoing saga, the Minister said it is a pity that it takes tragic incidents or situations before one can see an uproar on social media wanting to know what the government will do now.

Minister Richardson said that she has taken a stance on the enforcement of the laws on St. Maarten. She said she made clear that compliance needed to raise in St. Maarten, and it is of utmost importance that the laws of the land be respected. Minister Richardson said it would take about 5 to 6 years before someone could obtain their indefinite residency if their application was submitted consistently, however for far too long the window of opportunity has been abused and the Ministry have to ensure such an abuse ends.

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