Published On: Sun, May 6th, 2018

What does the verdict in Kerkhoff’s case tell us?

StMaartenNews LettersBy: Koos Sneek

May 6th 2018

On April 3 the judge ruled in the case which former interim island secretary Koert Kerkhoff had initiated against St. Eustatius Island government. The judge ruled in favor of the government. Kerkhoff had requested the court to instruct government not to obstruct him to continue doing his job as island secretary.

First of all, it is kind of remarkable that only last week through Facebook this verdict became known to the public. It gives the impression that the former coalition parties have attempted to keep this information, which also can be considered a loss for them, away from the public.

Although I agree with the verdict, in my opinion the judge did not even take all aspects of this case into consideration. What he overlooked is the fact that there was no extension of Kerkhoff’s original contract that ended August 1st 2017.
At the time he was appointed, under the so-called plan of approach, as interim-island secretary for one year. He was never appointed as island secretary. Therefore he could never even claim that his perceived appointment of August 1st was an extension of his previous position.

He also claims that the competent authority continued paying him his salary after August 1st.

The question can be asked, who is this competent authority? This is normally the executive council. Since the signature of the island governor was not there, this however cannot have been the case. And this is where this, and also other misconceptions about competent authority, stems from. The former commissioners handled as if they were ministers in an autonomous country and as such unilaterally could give instructions, sign contracts and spend government moneys. To take this a step further, it means that when someone is not having the authority of spending or instruct to spend government funds, this individual should be held liable for this.

The judge rightfully concluded that there was never an appointment for Kerkhoff as island secretary, after his interim contract had expired, since the approval of the Kingdom Representative was lacking. According to the law a decision to that extent can only take effect after the Kingdom Representative’s approval.

There is also something very interesting missing in Kerkhoff’s arguments. He is seen as one of the main advisors of the former coalition government and a mastermind behind the created perception that, based on UN resolutions regarding the right of self-determination, Statia’s government could set national laws aside, since they are overruled by international law. The authority of the Kingdom Representative was therefore no longer recognized by the former coalition.

One may wonder why he did not bring in this argument in his case to claim back his position. The answer is rather simple. He fully well knew that this was utter nonsense that was used to fool the people of Statia. But it appeared convincing enough for the former coalition partners who blindly followed his nonsensical ideas and that of their other advisors.

And we all know what this has brought for us. On February 7th the Island council, executive council and governor have been set aside until Statia has proven to be able to run the island ourselves again and respect the laws of the land.

Mr. Kerkhoff, thanks but no thanks!

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