Sarah: Prime Minister Jacobs can’t be serious about tying salary cuts annulment to apology for slavery

Sarah: Prime Minister Jacobs can’t be serious about tying salary cuts annulment to apology for slavery

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Heyliger-Marten calls for lawful Kingdom Relationships at Congress in The Hague

11 Dec 2022 

Published in Soualiga News Today 

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MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE - In an address delivered at the 32nd InterExpo Congress in The Hague (Netherlands) last Thursday, independent Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten called on drastic structural reforms to the Kingdom Charter in order to bring it in full compliance with international law.
The theme of the Congress was “Equivalence within the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. It was attended by politicians from the Netherlands and several islands of the former Netherlands Antilles as well as representatives of civil society and academic scholars.
The Congress ended with a panel discussion on Thursday afternoon which was followed by an informal gathering. Heyliger-Marten’s address was entitled “Equality: the 68-year-old fata morgana of the Kingdom of the Netherlands” and centered around the fact that the relations within the Kingdom are based on equivalence and not equality.
“The choice of the theme for the congress was very timely”, Heyliger-Marten said. “It allowed me to address the myth of equality between the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands. Chasing this fata morgana has been the main cause of the tensions and conflicts between the Netherlands and its Dutch colonies since the inception of the Kingdom Charter.”
Giving a historic overview, Heyliger-Marten pointed out that when the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands (“het Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden”) was presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations for vetting and approval in 1954, the Dutch word “gelijkwaardigheid” (equivalence) literally got lost in translation as “equality.”
“This led the members of the General Assembly, who communicated solely in the official languages English, French, and Spanish, to believe that the Kingdom Charter created absolute equality between the Netherlands and its colonies in full compliance with UN obligations. As a result of this misuse of the word “equality”, 21 member states voted in favour of the Kingdom Charter, with 10 voting against and 33 abstaining”, Heyliger-Marten explained.
She went on to point out that State Secretary van Huffelen has recently acknowledged that there actually no equality between Holland and the Caribbean islands. According to Heyliger Marten, this admission combined with other developments clear the way for bringing the Kingdom Charter in full compliance with international law.
She listed a number of steps towards reaching this goal, which are:

Sending a joint delegation with representatives of the Caribbean and Dutch Governments to the United Nations in order to discuss which actions are required by the Dutch State to be discharged from its obligations in article 73 a-d of the United Nations Charter.

Following up on the CERD recommendations as issued on August 25th, 2021.

Expediting the executing the “de Graaf” and “van Raak” motions.

A formal Dutch response to- and follow up on the petition filed at the Special rapporteur and Working Group of the UN.

A formal position and follow-up by the Dutch Parliament on the factsheet on article 73.

Making the Kingdom Conference 2023 a priority.

In closing, Heyliger-Marten stated that the Holland the six Caribbean islands have only two options: The first one is bringing the Kingdom in full compliance with international law, and the second is ending the current dysfunctional constitutional relationships and dismantling the current structure of the Kingdom.
“Personally, and realistically speaking, and looking back at how we got here, I believe it would be best for everybody in the Dutch Kingdom to work towards this second alternative as soon as possible, starting with the steps I outlined. This would allow us to turn the fata morgana into an oasis of peace and cooperation”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.

Sarah: Prime Minister Jacobs can’t be serious about tying salary cuts annulment to apology for slavery

“This is nothing more than distraction at the expense of the people,” commented Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said over the weekend in a press statement.
The MP went on to state that she can’t believe that the Prime Minister is serious about her remark that the cost-cutting measures cannot remain while apology is being given.
“Firstly, it should be noted that from media reports it appears unlikely that the apology program for December 19th will take place as intended”, MP Wescot stated.
The Dutch government has encountered some stiff opposition to its plan of a kingdom-wide slavery apology program on December 19th. Be that as it may, St. Maarten is a long way from articulating its position on the issue of a Dutch apology for its slavery atrocities, or on the issue of admittance and compensation.
A paradox of the Kingdom’s constitutional status is the fact that the St. Maarten government is part of these discussion in the person of the minister plenipotentiary.
“So as much as the prime minister wishes to wash her hands from the document of the Dialogue Group Slavery, this train has already left the station and the St. Maarten government would do well to take a formal position and have its plans ready for when, not if, the topics of the dialogue group, namely accepting the travesties committed, apologies to the descendants and corrective (financial) measures are put on the table”, according to MP Wescot.
The government of Sint Maarten hides behind the fact that they had no formal representation in the Dialogue Group; then it was the State Secretary who came to Sint Maarten but did not give enough time for an official response. In the view of the Prime Minister, that fact-finding trip by the State Secretary had no status, commented the MP.
It must again be recalled that as far as the 12.5% cut in salary benefits across the board is concerned, it is the government’s competency to annul both laws that regulate the salary cuts. The laws passed by parliament to institute these cuts in the public and semipublic sectors, regulated that the government may annul these laws by national decree, MP Wescot again explained.
“If the government is so sure of its case as it professes, it should annul the laws and undo the cuts. It has the authority to do so.”
The government should stop the cat-and mouse game with the Dutch government and the Dutch State Secretary. The task St. Maarten faces is much bigger.
“As I have asked before, why not make a financial plan that takes into account the impossibility of a balanced budget anytime soon, and the strangling debt situation of the country due to 1) an inherited debt and 2) loans for liquidity assistance”.
The government brags about bringing the annual accounts up to date, granted, which is an important part of the financial cycle.

“They finally completed the 2022 national budget, in the last quarter of the year. Their braggadocio did not extend to the fact that cuts in the 2022 budget limited the marketing of the island, closed afternoon school programs and much more”.
Unlike the other governments in the Kingdom, the St. Maarten coalition in its governing program ties the development of the country to achieving full decolonization. In the same breath however, it speaks of “…the fact that Sint Maarten has not been granted a full measure of self-government based on absolute equality with the Netherlands under the UN Charter and relevant resolutions, has been by far the most important reason for the island not developing to its full potential since the inception of the UN and Kingdom Charters.”
This is a loaded statement for a government to make and should be backed up with sound data, in the opinion of MP Wescot.
“Leaving aside the semantics, the question begs what this government has undertaken to secure this development, which in its view is “completing decolonization, and in the view of most others is just a call to amend the Kingdom charter. Again, where is the plan?”, MP Wescot queries.
Maybe if the government itself understood what it is advocating under so-called decolonization, invoking the rights to development under article 73 of the UN charter could be part of the discussion regarding slavery reparations.
“To know where we should’ve been, we must know where we are. So again, I ask the question, whether for slavery reparations/compensations, or unfulfilled decolonization standards in the view of the UP/NA coalition, where is the plan?”, the MP concluded her statement.

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