ORANJESTAD, Sint Eustatius – Today, the ruling of judge van der Burgt in the summary proceedings of van Putten c.s. against the Dutch Government was issued in favor of the Dutch Government.
The ruling seems to confirm the observations and concerns of some people when the case was filed that “complaining the Dutch to the Dutch” would be an exercise in futility, and that the ruling would be one of “class justice”.
Nevertheless, what can be concluded based on the ruling is the following:
1. The Court does consider itself competent to rule in the case and the matters presented.
2. The give plaintiffs are admissible as private persons.
3. The Court acknowledges the urgency based on which the summary proceedings were filed, in addition to the main proceedings.
4. The (validity of the) UN Charter and relevant resolutions, and that of international law where it concerns the entities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands was acknowledged, as well as the fact that national law needs to comply with international law.
5. The Dutch government must give account to the Court by explaining its actions when summoned, and cannot simply act ultra vires and ignore issues raised by the Government of Sint Eustatius on behalf of the people it represents.
In the ruling, the Court did not directly answer the main legal question, which is if national law can supersede or set aside international law. It did answer the question indirectly, by almost verbating following the defendant’s arguments. It did so without substantiating why each legal argument presented by the plaintiffs, including the relevant jurisprudence (as is customary), is valid or not in the opinion of the Court.
The defendant basically claims that (a) article 73 of the UN Charter ceased to be applicable to Sint Eustatius in 1954, and (b) the people of Sint Eustatius freely chose a new constitutional status in 1954 and 2010.
However, (a) The Netherlands was only discharged of its obligations under article 73e of the UN Charter, (b) the majority of the population of Sint Eustatius never chose the current status, and still are opposed to it, and (c) regardless of which status the people of Sint Eustatius chose or will choose voluntarily, it must meet the criterion of a full measure of self-government based on absolute equality with the Netherlands.
Based on this preliminary review of today’s ruling, and the fact that the ongoing main proceedings allow the plaintiffs the opportunity to elaborate on their arguments, an appeal to today’s ruling in the summary proceedings will be filed.
Clyde I. van Putten
Island Council Member and Leader of Government of St. Eustatius