June 21, 2020
Member of the Second Chamber Chris van Dam will be presenting a motion to request the Kingdom Government to take over the management of the Point Blanche Prison for 5 years at our cost. My response as a representative of the people of St. Maarten is, maybe if the Kingdom government pays the cost. Mr. van Dam’s premise for such are reports from the council for the maintenance of law and the progress committee which have repeatedly pointed out that the Point Blanche prison as it pertains to human detention and working environment is completely inappropriate and does not comply with international law and regulations. He continues that in accordance with article 43.2 of the Kingdom Charter the guarantee of fundamental human rights, freedom and security of law is a Kingdom Affair.
This is not the first time such a motion was presented to the Second Chamber. On October 15 2019 a similar motion was adopted by a broad majority of the Second Chamber. Some 3 weeks later in the daily herald of Nov 2, 2019 he said and I quote: “There is no question of a unilateral take- over of the St. Maarten law and order system by The Hague, for such a decision needs to be on a basic consensus end of quote. He confirms that the matter has to be based on consensus. I agree with the Member that the constant changes of government and the sometimes throwing out of the plans of the former government lead to a discontinuity of policy. My response with regards to the take -over of management of the prison remains, “Maybe if you will pay the cost.”
How do they expect St. Maarten after the devastation of hurricane “Irma”, the present covid19 pandemic and depleted government revenues to carry the cost? I believe what Member Chris van Dam wants to do is take over the entire law and order system as he himself stated, beginning with Point Blanche prison. What the Member of the second chamber should be focusing more on is the $550 million of which only $33 million has been disbursed so far. And to expedite matters so that the $209.7 million worth of projects tied up in the World bank guidelines be paid out. What he should also do is request his government to transfer the $12 million earned in interest generated by the Trust fund into St. Maarten coffers. (wishful thinking) The member of the second Chamber in the November 2, 2019 article said St. Maarten should be happy with the taking over of this heavy responsibility.
Let us look at article 43 of the Kingdom Charter. It talks about human rights and that each one of the countries are responsible for such. It also states that guaranteeing such is the responsibility of the Kingdom (Holland). I have a questions for the Member van Dam. Were the human rights of the people of St Eustatius guaranteed when they removed the democratically elected representatives of St. Eustatius.
Today, they have come to the realization that nothing much has changed in the two years that they are in charge. Doesn’t every country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands based on the (Internationaal Verdrag inzake de economische, sociale en culturele rechten (IVESCR) freely translated: “International Treaty on economic, social and cultural rights”, have a right to ask for protection based on these same human rights and do so regardless of their nationality?
The Kingdom government already has control of our finances via the Committee for Financial Supervision (Cft), they are already in control of the Judiciary and is now looking for total control of our law enforcement. Article 43.2 while being a guarantee function of the Netherlands cannot be enforced without the approval of St. Maarten. This should be a collective effort which includes the other partners of the Kingdom.
Article 39 of the charter states freely translated, the governments of the countries have to be given the possibility to have their input or give their opinion before a draft proposal to amend any existing legislation of a far reaching nature is submitted to the responsible body. This is where the infamous undemocratic process of the Kingdom Charter articles 12 to 22 takes place. Concluding with the Kingdom Government having the final say. I am looking forward to when the St. Maarten discussions on this motion after its handling by the Dutch Second Chamber on June 22, 2020 takes place.