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Published On: Fri, Nov 6th, 2020

Parliament hops on the de-colonization bandwagon

PHILIPSBURG – Members of Parliament approved a motion on Thursday that instructs the government to complete the de-colonization process by hiring lawyers that should also pursue reparations for Dutch violations of international law and treaties. Even before the meeting started there was already a draft agreement with the Peter Choharis Law Group in Washington, DC., that aims to involve Curacao and Aruba in this process.

While this agreement does not mention the term slavery it seems that the supporters of the motion want to turn its slavery-history into a financial bonanza.

Choharis sent his draft-agreement on October 1 to United People’s party faction leader Grisha Heyiger-Marten and to Xavier Blackman; Heyliger forwarded on the same day to UP-MP Rolando Brison and to National Alliance MP William Marlin.

On October 6, Brison forwarded the document to Garrick Richardson at the Parliament secretariat with the request to forward it to the presidents of parliament in Curacao and Aruba. This email was duly registered on October 27.

The first undertaking of Choharis is organizing a round table conference with the Netherlands in the summer of 2021. This conference should result in “a signed written agreement to achieve complete de-colonization.” Whether the Netherlands is prepared to partake in such a conference remains an open question.

According to the proposal by Choharis the conference-agreement will “allow the people of Curacao, Aruba and St. Maarten (assuming that Curacao and Aruba will jump on the bandwagon – ed.) to achieve self-determination and full representative government; promote democracy, human rights and institutional reforms; foster economic development and achieve fiscal and financial independence.”

In this context, the reference to UN resolution 1514 by the Court in First Instance in the case of Van Putten c.s. versus the Netherlands comes to mind: “Non-self-governing territories can be said to have reached a full measure of self-governance through free association with an independent state.”

The court ruled in Septembr 2019 that Statia – and St. Maarten in its wake – “has reached a full measure of self-government in 1954.” This is because the islands that were at the time part of the Netherlands Antilles freely opted to become part of the legal order within the Kingdom as established in the Kingdom Charter.

Choharis’ agreement includes the task to finalize a binding agreement with the Netherlands “to pay reparation to each island based on clear metrics.”

According to the agreement, “reparations will provide citizens with compensation for damages resulting from the colonial and post-colonial periods, including ongoing legacy injuries.”

With some foresight, Choharis writes in the agreement that the pursuit of reparations is “of a speculative nature” and that he cannot and does not promise a satisfactory result.

For organizing the round table conference, Choharis charges each island a fixed monthly fee of $7,000 – a stunning 91 percent below his regular tariff. If it goes into effect on December and if it takes until July of next year, the price tag for St. Maarten will be $56,000.

For the effort to get reparations from the Netherlands the law firm proposes a contingency fee of 0.085 percent – or $850 for every $1 million St. Maarten will receive in the unlikely case the Netherlands agrees to pay.

The time table that is a part of Choharis proposal is not tenable anymore. It reserves the month of October for pursuing efforts about de-colonization with the United Nations and international bodies – but that month is already gone.

The islands would have up to May 2021 for a self-assessment of their wants and needs and negotiations with Dutch authorities are scheduled to take place in May and June of next year, followed by a signed agreement with the Dutch in July.

The Choharis Law Group is a lobby firm established in Washington, DC. Based on data from the Senate Office of Public Records its only client for lobbying-efforts in 2018, 2019 and 2020 is the Qatar National Human Rights Committee. This committee has so far spent a bit more than $662,000 on the group’s services.

Choharis’ efforts consist of “educating members of Congress and staff about the ongoing human rights violations of people throughout the Gulf of Arabia.”

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