Especially in times of crisis, it is of great importance to continue to work together well and constructively within the Kingdom. Today the Ministers of Justice Grapperhaus (the Netherlands including the Caribbean Netherlands), Bikker (Aruba), Girigorie (Curaçao) and Richardson (St. Maarten) met to discuss judicial cooperation within the Kingdom. This time, State Secretary Knops of the Interior and Kingdom Relations also joined the meeting.
Data protection and information exchange
In tackling crime, it is important that countries are able to quickly exchange information with each other, with robust data protection. Therefore, the ministers have made agreements to ensure that the protection of data is arranged unequivocally. Discussions also focused on how the islands’ information hubs can continue to be developed through the correct training courses and earmarked capacity.
Exchange of knowledge and expertise
The quality of the public prosecutors is also a priority on the countries’ agenda. Today, agreements have been made so that local prosecutors (from the islands) are trained every year. Additionally, agreements were made about financing the process. Further there has been compliance on the education programmes on law in the countries, so that graduates of the universities of Aruba and Curaçao can have equal access to selection and training courses for the professions of lawyer, judge and public prosecutor in the Netherlands. These agreements will also encourage exchanges of these professionals between the countries and enhance the quality and diversity of legal professions.
Uniform criminal procedural law
Criminal procedural law contains the rules on how the police and public prosecution service can detect violations and on the way in which judges should decide on these violations. The modernisation of the Wetboek van Strafvordering (Code of Criminal Procedure) in the three countries and the Caribbean Netherlands will make the criminal process more efficient and, among other things, give more rights to victims. For the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the same rules apply throughout the Caribbean part of the Kingdom for tracing criminal offences. The judges can also apply the same rules for trying these cases. Agreements have therefore been made so that these codes have the same content and come into force at the same time.
Strengthening the rule of law
‘Strengthening the rule of law’ has also been discussed, as part of the country packages. The four countries have made a dynamic start with the implementation of these measures. The Netherlands is making a structural amount of up to 45 million euros available to strengthen the rule of law in the Caribbean countries within the Kingdom.
The aim of the six-monthly consultation is to achieve agreement on a joint, coordinated approach to the shared judicial issues facing the various countries. During the consultation Minister Grapperhaus of course also represented the interests of the Caribbean Netherlands, namely Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, the Judicial Four Parties Consultation (JVO) was once again a digital meeting chaired by Aruba.