St. Maarten vows to destroy Bosman’s arguments

St. Maarten Justice Minister Dennis Richardson has said that the initiative law  by Second Chamber member André Bosman to “regulate the registration of people of Afro-Caribbean descent" from the Dutch Caribbean in the Netherlands has failed every test. “We will contest each argument and destroy each argument." Richardson hinted that the islands may well reciprocate the Dutch initiative.

"St. Maarten rejects this law totally and completely and will fight it to the bitter end," said the minister on Wednesday. He announced that St. Maarten’s government has decided to invoke article 11, number six of the Kingdom Charter which allows any country in the kingdom to declare whether a law has an impact on them. With such a declaration, the law enters the realm of discussions in the Kingdom Council of Ministers and the Kingdom Council of State.

"It is my opinion that with St. Maarten declaring it an issue, the Kingdom Council of State should be involved in reviewing it," the minister said, adding that the representatives of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten should be allowed to give their position even if it is "a minority opinion."

St. Maarten does not have a representative in the Kingdom Council of State since Richardson stepped down as a member to become a minister in May 2013. A representative may be appointed "on short notice" if more laws like Bosman's come to the fore.

The “Bosman initiative law” proposes the introduction of a modified passport for residents of Curaçao, Aruba, and St. Maarten. It would still be a Dutch passport, but on the outside the origin of the bearer would be visible. The plan was rejected earlier this week by the Meijers Commission, which comprises international immigration specialists. The islands have consistently spoken out against it.

Richardson said that his government will aim to send a delegation to be part of the discussions on the law in the Dutch Parliament. Aruba and Curaçao will be approached to join in the struggle. St. Maarten has also prepared a position paper that contests all aspects of the initiative Law. This position paper will be sent to the two chambers of the Dutch Parliament.

"... [I]n a year when Mandela is being lauded for his effects on discrimination in South Africa, we know that South Africa to a great degree was moved in a direction of discrimination by people originating from the Netherlands ... it is a shame to the country and to the kingdom that such a law that is so evidently discriminatory is being pursued by the Netherlands," Richardson said.

The people of the three islands have contributed to the Dutch social system, Richardson pointed out. The only way anyone, including Bosman, can claim that there has been no contribution is "if you have a short memory or know nothing about history."

He said St. Maarten, Aruba and Curaçao have contributed to the wealth of the Netherlands. The wealth of the Netherlands "was not built yesterday or overnight. It was built over many years" and aided "due to the position of our islands as colonies" in the distant past and even in the Second World War "where our people contributed their lives for the protection of the west," Richardson said.

"Every year, thousands of our students – our brightest – go to the Netherlands ... more of them stay there and contribute to the country. In fact, it makes it difficult for us to build our nation as a result of the brain drain to the Netherlands," he noted.