Pro Soualiga demands retraction of Statia’s mediation-report

PHILIPSBURG — The Pro Soualiga Foundation recommends in a letter dated July 27 to the island Council of Statia and to the kingdom representative to withdraw a report written by mediators Suzy Camelia-Römer and Maria Liberia-Peters with the assistance of former Ombudsman Alba Martijn.

The report evaluates the situation in Statia, after the Netherlands appointed a kingdom representative to govern the island and to sideline the Executive Council, the Island Council and the Lt. Governor in 2018.

The mediators recommend restoring democracy in Statia after the elections in 2023. If that is not possible, they prefer higher supervision (that would make local decisions subject to approval by the kingdom) to further sidelining the Executive Council and the Island Council.

The report is also critical of the resources kingdom representative Alida Francis has at her disposal to execute her tasks. The mediators find it undesirable that legislative and executive tasks are both her responsibility. “The disturbed relationships (between Island Council and kingdom representative) are the result of the design of the Law Restoration Facilities Statia (Wet Herstel Voorzieningen Statia). “The kingdom representative has insufficient support and this causes delays,” the mediation report states.

While the mediators urge the kingdom to restore democracy in Statia as soon as possible, the Pro Soualiga Foundation maintains that the report is “on shaky legal grounds” because it recommends higher supervision and because of the assumption that the laws that have sidelined the island’s democratic institutions are lawful legislation.”

The foundation reacts with its letter to the Island Council to the reply it received from State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen to questions it posed about the right to self-determination. The foundation stated to Van Huffelen that this right is a “jus cogens/peremptory norm” and asked her to confirm that it prevails over the kingdom law COHO.

Van Huffelen’s answer was clear: she wrote that “the right of self-determination of peoples is a permanent, continuing, universal and inalienable right with a peremptory character.” The state secretary also acknowledged that “in cases of conflict between a rule of international law with a peremptory character and national legislation, international law prevails.”

Based on this part of Van Huffelen’s answer, the Pro Soualiga Foundation concluded that she has confirmed “that no law that violates Statia’s jus cogens right to self-determination can operate in Statia.”

While this creates the illusion of agreement, the foundation failed to mention that Van Huffelen also wrote: “The kingdom considers that the COHO is in accordance with the right of self-determination of peoples. Therefore, the issue of precedence does not arise.”

The foundation also asked the state secretary whether she agrees that the right to self-determination prevails over the Kingdom Charter. No cigar, because Van Huffelen answered: “The kingdom considers that the Charter is in accordance with the right of self-determination.”

The temporary law about the neglect in Statia came about in 2018 after a committee  found that the administration was hampered by ”lawlessness,  financial mismanagement, neglect of other administrative authorities, discrimination, intimidation, threats and an appetite for personal power.”

Later this law was repealed and replaced by a law that sees to the restoration of facilities on the island. A motion from parliamentarian Jorien Wuite, dated March 29, 2022, states that there is still no agreement about the time table for the restoration of democracy in Statia and that progress is too slow.

The foundation opted to sign its letter to Van Huffelen as “Pro Soualiga, Oriens ex Occidente Lux.” The Latin reference translates as “A light rising from the West.”