Published On: Mon, Aug 13th, 2018

St. Maarten: Electronic monitoring company plans to sue government for negligence

Cornelius-de-WeeverPHILIPSBURG - The Justice Ministry owes Fennix Global Technologies close to US $500,000 in outstanding fees for the maintenance and upgrade of 25 electronic ankle bracelets purchased in 2015 which were never used by the government.

The company signed a three-year contract with the Ministry, signed by former Minister of Justice Edson Kirindongo and currently suspended Pointe Blanche prison Director Edward Rohan, which started in 2015.

The company had been reaching out to Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever before an audience was granted earlier this year. Meanwhile, the monthly payments for the 25 devices are still being billed to the Ministry.

The Daily Herald contacted Fennix Global Technologies Executive Regional Director Chey Rodriquez for an update on the programme, but Rodriquez said the ministry has still not come with a solution to the outstanding fees or for using the bracelets for inmates.

Fennix Global Technologies is one of seven companies in the world dedicated to design, develop, manufacture and implement technological solutions for the criminal justice industry. Fennix’s Criminal Justice Division, which operates under the trademark brand monitor inmates, has current successful projects in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Puerto Rico, with both its Pro-Active Tracking (PAT) and Prisons Electronic Management (PEM) modules.

Rodriquez said his company programmes have been successful in some 80 prisons across the region. “We have also other sub-modules in PEM such as Virtual Courthouse, which reduces transportation costs and security risks,” Rodriquez wrote.

He said that by using his company, the Government of St. Maarten can save around $6,000 per inmate per month or $72,000 a year.

“Our agreement was for 25 units, which saved thousands annually. Our current contract with St. Maarten is close to $500,000 in outstanding fees. We are willing to negotiate such debt and properly train personnel as well as implement the programme as agreed into the prison facility,” stated Rodriquez.

The 25 units are not being used at present. This newspaper contacted Minister De Weever’s cabinet and the minister gave his take on the issue.

“Fennix Global Technologies provided Electronic Monitoring system services to the Ministry of Justice and organisations which fall within its scope of responsibilities in the period of approximately 2015 until mid-2016.

“On Friday June 17, 2016, it was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Justice by the Court of Guardianship that Fennix had changed its software systems without informing the Ministry. It was furthermore noticed that the changes caused the system to become non-functional.

“In addition, it became apparent that Fennix had seriously breached privacy and confidentiality by exposing sensitive information to unauthorised third parties. Fennix was afforded the opportunity to remedy the situation and restore services but was unable to do so,” stated the minister.

“By correspondence from the Minister of Justice of June 28, 2016, Fennix was subsequently formally informed that the aforementioned was considered a substantial breach of the contract with the Ministry of Justice and that this was considered grounds for termination.

“Fennix was again afforded the opportunity to remedy the situation but was unable to do so. As such, Fennix was informed that the contract was considered terminated based on the breach of the terms agreed in said contract. There are no funds due to Fennix by the Ministry of Justice.”

This newspaper obtained letters addressed to the prison and the minister at the time of changes to their software. The letter was sent on March 17, 2016. The company did inform the ministry about the changes. Fennix Global will start court procedure for damages.

Fennix Global Technologies is an American company established in Panama. Rodriquez appointed Arthur Lugisse as Executive Representation in the Caribbean. Fennix360 has a local technical crew in St. Maarten and all its other subsidiaries. The company was contracted to head two programmes.

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