Published On: Tue, Dec 26th, 2023


Freedom of expression is not understood well by everyone. Some people think that this means you can say or write anything you like. Those people are wrong. Unfortunately these people have access to social media where the principle of decency has been buried under a truckload of mud.

But wait, we still have newspapers. Right? And those newspapers have editors who decide what to publish and what not to publish. One of those editors is Norman Serphos, the Editor-in-Chief at Amigoe.

It is good to note, in case anybody has forgotten, that Norman once was the spokesman for the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Curacao. In 2019 he lost his job after he had filed a false complaint about inappropriate comments on his personal Facebook-account. Serphos claimed that he had been hacked but later on it turned out that he had written those comments himself.

Amigoe hired him nevertheless as its new editor-in-chief. Nothing wrong with that because everybody deserves a second chance.

Now it looks like Serphos still had an axe to grind with the justice system, when he allowed the publication of a letter by an anonymous author who claimed that judges in the Caribbean are corrupt and that they are taking bribes.

“It is known to many, including prime ministers and parliamentarians in the Netherlands Antilles that certain judges depend on backdoor-payments,” is one of the statements in this letter. Our questions would be: “Known to many? Who are these people?” Serphos apparently did not ask those questions. If he had done it, he would have discovered that those people do not exist. That should have been reason enough to refuse the publication of a letter that mentions judges by name and suggests that they are tainted.

The anonymous writer even claims that extreme-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders and the Surinamese mass-murderer Desi Bouterse have been treated cruelly by a “corrupt system.”

Bouterse is responsible for the execution in Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo of fifteen opponents of his regime on December 8, 1982. Recently, he was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for these crimes.

All these statements did not set off any alarm bells with editor-in-chief Serphos, otherwise he would have thrown this letter in a dumpster.

René Zwart wrote on dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl that the publication of the letter may have consequences for the author and for Serphos. Slander is against the law, not only for the one who writes it but also for those who cooperate with its distribution.

Zwart has identified Edwardo Alexandro Antonio Mathew as the most likely author of the slanderous letter. Mathew is one of the directors of Massimo Consultant and Financial Services, an agency that represents people who experience injustice on Aruba.

Mathew has spent time in prison on Aruba in 2017/2018, according to Zwart. He approached Mathew for a comment but did not receive a reaction.

It is clear that Mathew is not the only one responsible for the slanderous letter. Norman Serphos should have acted like a gatekeeper by refusing publication but he didn’t. That makes him also responsible for this unsavory distribution of slander.

Didn’t he now better? Of course he did - and that makes it even more likely that Serphos used the letter as an opportunity to get back the justice system that showed him the door only a couple of years ago.



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