‘Due diligence’ followed in Guyana consular services – St Maarten gov’t

The Government of St Maarten says that “due diligence was followed in the matter related to consular activities of Guyana” on the island in response to this country’s concern about allegations suggesting otherwise published on a news blog site.

A statement from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of St Maarten, released via GINA, said that country has taken note of a press release by the Guyana Government expressing its concern regarding allegations printed in the online news blog discrediting both the Con-sul General to Barbados, Michael Brotherson and the Interim Director of the Department of Foreign Relations for St Maarten.

“In the absence of a consular representative Mr Brotherson was given full authorization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana to conduct consular duties; representing the interest of the Guyanese residents on St Maarten,” the press release said.  “All necessary protocols with regard to accreditation were followed including due process by both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana and the Directorate of Foreign Relations of Country St Maarten.”

Further, the St Maarten Government said the consular activities by Brotherson were executed in total conformity with the applicable procedures on the basis of a request by the Guyana foreign ministry and it regrets that St Maarten’s name is being tarnished by irresponsible blogging.

“As a country, St Maarten is obliged to treat consular officials of other countries with courtesies and protection afforded to all such personnel on the basis of the Vienna Convention,” the press release said. It noted too that the falsehoods contained in the story on the St Maarten News Network (SMN) blog site could have seriously jeopardised the relationship between Guyana and St Maarten based on articles of the Vienna Convention on consular relations. The Guyana Government also stated that it would issue a letter of warning to the blogger Bibi Hodge Shaw and that legal action could result if no heed is taken.

“The Council of Minis-ters has been informed of this communiqué and further action is possible. A breach of the Vienna Convention is a serious issue and the Government of St Maarten will not accept that any individual or group compromises in the name of St Maarten for personal reasons,” the statement said.

The St Maarten Govern-ment again stresses that all procedures were followed in the matter related to consular activities of Guyana on St Maarten. The government also noted that the Guyana Government has issued a statement that all consular fees, as fixed by the Guyana foreign ministry, were processed in accordance with the financial regulations of the Government of Guyana, with the required government receipts issued.

The St Maarten Govern-ment also said it is concerned about the incidence of false “news” stories, baseless allegations, and unfounded damaging reports which circulate on “this so-called news blog.” While it is all for ensuring and respecting the freedom of the press and appreciates the role the media plays in informing the public, “the media too has to operate within the framework of professional and ethical journalism and respect for the rights of others,” the statement said.

St Maarten is the Dutch part of an island shared with the French-controlled St Martin.

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