Gwendolien Mossel presents the year report 2019 to the Parliament and the people of Sint Maarten in her capacity as Ombudsman of Sint Maarten.
The Ombudswoman states in the Annual Report "My first year as Ombudsman was very insightful and dynamic. Despite the challenges Sint Maarten and in particular the government continue to face; the Bureau remains focused in continuing to assist government in achieving a deeper level of good governance."
Effective January 1, 2019, Ms. Gwendolien Mossel was appointed by the Parliament of Sint Maarten as Ombudsman of Sint Maarten for a seven-year term, in accordance with article 2 of the National Ordinance Ombudsman. The new Ombudsman immediately set out to introduce herself to the community via a Community Outreach Program. The objective of the program was threefold. First it was to introduce the new Ombudsman to the people of Sint Maarten. Secondly, it was to visit the districts to seek out the concerns, grievances and complaints of the people, particularly the most vulnerable, and finally to promote awareness on the role of the institution.
In addition to the Outreach Program, the Ombudsman attended the 10th biennial Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) Conference, held on the island of Bermuda with the theme: “Strengthening the role and performance of the Ombudsman and Human Rights Institutions in the Caribbean and Latin America”. In an effort to improve and reactivate the working relationship between CAROA and the Latin American Ombudsman Institute (ILO), the Secretary General of the Bureau participated in the institutions 10th General Assembly which was held in San Salvador. The Ombudsman also attended Ombudsmen of the Kingdom consultations, a cooperation platform developed by the Ombudsmen of the
Kingdom of the Netherlands, in Saba and The Hague.
In 2019 the newly appointed Ombudsman took a dual approach to complaint handling; dealing with regular complaints but also taking the past as well as current signals, pertaining to home repair and conducting community outreach, into consideration. The community outreach entailed conducting in depth interviews with stakeholders as well as complainants, this also included 6 townhalls and home visits. A total of 54 new complaints from the regular complaint procedure and 16 complaints concerning the systemic investigation into home repair were registered. A total of 313 inquiries were made at the Information Window (IW), compared to 414 in 2018. A significant amount of IW’s registered were related to civil cases e.g. lease agreements and employment, followed by ZBO’s and human resource topics. The Ombudsman has, in an effort to increase efficiency in the (corrective) measures to be taken by government bodies.
Source: Ombudsman of Sint Maarten