photo: Pieter Hofmann

DEN HAAG – The State Council is expected in a few months to adopt an advice on means of resolving the so-called “dispute regulation” in the Kingdom. It is a proposed law developed by Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk.

The Dutch Minister does not want decisions on the dispute to be enforced by the National Council of Ministers. The Dutch Caribbean islands in the Kingdom wants an independent body that will make unbiased decisions.

‘Always right’
During Kingdom discussions last year it was agreed to appoint an independent body. However Minister Plasterk will not go along with this and came up with his own proposal. According to Prime Minister of St. Maarten William Marlin this outcome is because the Netherlands is “always right.” Marlin also made this clear during his meeting with Plasterk last week. The Prime Minister was in The Hague in attempt to persuade the Council of Ministers not to implement an integrity chamber.

Plasterk’s proposal was sent to the Council of Ministers at the end of January. This is why the earlier proposal by the Dutch Caribbean islands was put aside. Constitutional Scholar Arjen van Rijn Professor of Constitutional Law and Constitutional Reform at the University of Curaçao said he is “surprised.” “The resistance from the Caribbean countries was enormous.”

Van Rijn questions if the State Council will simply agree with Plasterk’s proposal. The Council might also consider the ‘intervention of an independent judge.’ Following the advice from the State Council the proposed law will go the Second Chamber. The Dutch Caribbean islands will also give their input.

According to Aruban Member of Parliament Andin Bikker (PDR) the islands will surely propose amendments. “This ruling is not precedent and the Kingdom Council of Ministers may deviate from it: this is how it should be.” The proposed law will also be discussed on the individual Caribbean countries.

Constitutional law

“The dispute has public support and therefore justly allows for an independent judge to evaluate it”, lawyer Van Rijn pointed out. “Moreover it is only being analyzed from a legal perspective. If it is about policies or political choices then such a judge does not preside over this. That’s why I don’t understand the cold feet from The Netherlands. In the Netherlands there is much distaste for constitutional law, but in most countries this is a normal part of the democratic checks and balances.”

Since Plasterk’s proposal has been sent to the State Council, there have been substantial negative reactions from Caribbean politicians. Prime Minister Marlin finds it regrettable that Plasterk ignores the wishes of the four parliaments in the Kingdom. “This is not a resolution.”

Gerrit Schotte, Curaçao Member of Parliament and the man behind the current interim government on the island said: “It is obvious that the current resolution of the National Council of Ministers is to overrule the ‘equal’ partners in the Kingdom.”