Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

Van Dam’s plan to take over prison is unlawful

MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten~ Knops gets it right for once, says MP Heyliger-Marten ~

PHILIPSBURG — Faction Leader for the United People’s UP Party in Parliament on St. Maarten Grisha Heyliger-Marten says Dutch MP Chris van Dam’s motion to intervene and run the St. Maarten prison at the island’s expense is precisely the type of unlawful interference with budgetary processes by the Committee for Financial Supervision (Cft), that has prevented the local Government from structurally addressing urgent local matters.

On June 22, Van Dam submitted a motion to the Dutch Second Chamber requesting that the Dutch Government, at the expense of the Government and people of St. Maarten, take over the Prison System of St. Maarten for five years. His motion was tabled during a session of the Kingdom Relations Committee on Law Enforcement and will be voted on this week.

MP Heyliger-Marten issued a letter to MP van Dam on June 23 in which she laments the Dutch Government’s continued meddling in the face of St. Maarten’s wish to finalize the decolonization process. “Your motion co-signed by MP Bosman is not in compliance with international law, partially because it refers to elements in the Kingdom Charter (het “Statuut”) which conflict with said international law.”

In a press release issued Sunday Heyliger-Marten said, “My response sent to the honourable Member of Parliament in The Hague regarding his motion to take over our prison is simple. In the case of the prison in particular, but the management of our affairs in general, it is exactly due to this type of unlawful interference with the budgetary process of the Parliament of St. Maarten by the Government of the Netherlands, via the Cft, that has the Government of St. Maarten limited and restricted from adequately addressing the matter of the prison, and other important issues, in the best interest of the people over the past years.”

She said the conditions imposed for support every time our country faces a crisis shows how little consideration has been given to our challenges. How can you ask us to cut, cut, cut, when we are trying to avoid the financial hardship that our people will face without assistance? “With the economy being the worst we have ever seen, you cannot tell private sector companies to throw their workers out on the street just to make cuts in their businesses if they want assistance. We all know any cuts in a business will include its employees.”

She said, “This goes against what we are trying to avoid in the first place. We have to take care of all of our people in the private sector and government, and it shouldn’t be that we are being dictated to every time and being told to do things that go against our people’s wishes. We represent the people the same way the Dutch MPs represent their people, and we must be allowed to work in the interest of our people and not have illegal and unfair conditions forced down our throats.”

Her contention is supported by statements made by State Secretary Raymond Knops who advised against MP Van Dam’s draft motion for legal/constitutional reasons. He expressly indicated that having the Government of St Maarten paying for the intervention would interfere with the budget right and authority of the Parliament of St Maarten.

MP Heyliger-Marten said the Caribbean Netherlands islands had significant challenges none of which are limited to St. Maarten alone. She said her push to complete the decolonization for the Dutch Caribbean Islands is based on the need to avoid this type of unlawful meddling by The Netherlands, which has handicapped the islands for many years.

“Solving this problem can only be achieved if the decolonization of the Caribbean islands is completed in accordance with the UN Charter and relevant resolutions. This, in turn, would require the Government of the Netherlands to comply with article 73 of the UN Charter fully, so that the executive and legislative branches of St. Maarten and the other five Caribbean islands within the Kingdom can truly exercise their right to a full measure of self-government based on absolute equality as mandated by said UN Charter and relevant resolutions, and without unlawful external interference.”

MP Heyliger-Marten said that during the last Inter-parliamentary Kingdom Consultation IPKO, she promised to provide the participants with information regarding the unfinished process of decolonization of the Caribbean islands based on the UN Charter and relevant resolutions.

“I have since sent a letter with questions to the Hon. Prime Minister of St. Maarten, via our Chairman of Parliament and I genuinely hope that MP Van Dam has received said information and has had the opportunity to peruse it.” MP Heyliger-Marten is convinced that if Van Dam and MP Bosman read the information sent to the IPKO participants, they would recognize that their motion is an unlawful proposition.

Van Dam had reached out to the Members of Parliament via e-mail informing them of his motion and said he was updating them in keeping with his promise to be more open during this year’s IPKO meeting.