Jurist Ulli d’Oliveira: “Misconception that governor is a toothless tiger”

POSTED: 10/27/14 4:52 PM

St. Maarten / Hilversum – Curacao won’t manage to sideline the governor in the screening process for ministers, Jamila Baaziz reports in Caribisch Netwerk, based on an analysis by jurist Ulli d’Oliveira and PhD kingdom law Aubrich Bakhuis. “For the Dutch government, the governor is the outpost to guarantee good governance,” D’Oliveira says.

The instruction the Kingdom Council of Ministers gave last week Friday to St. Maarten to arrange a stricter screening of the new cabinet, falls within the possibilities offered by the Kingdom Charter and the governor’s rule book, both experts say. The actions of the parliament in Curacao are “ridiculous” according to d’Oliveira. When everything is said and done, the Kingdom Council of Ministers will have to approve the adjustment to the constitution the Parliament in Curacao wants. And that will not happen.

The parliament in Willemstad approved a motion tabled by MFK-leader Gerrit Schotte to sideline the governor when it comes to the appointment of ministers and to leave this up to the parliament itself. In St. Maarten, the parliament has called on the governor not to execute the instruction.

Bakhuis labels the instruction to the governor to take a decision about the new group of ministers in St. Maarten only after an independent screening with Dutch assistance “constitutional power play”: “What the government is doing is legally borderline from the perspective of the Kingdom Charter.”

D’Oliveira has a different opinion. He considers the action by the Kingdom Council of Ministers “completely legitimate”: “It is a misconception that the governor is a toothless tiger.”

At the same time, both experts note that the Netherlands aims to prevent a blunt intervention with the instruction to St. Maarten. Such a blunt intervention could be a General Measure of Kingdom Governance. Bakhuis: “The government feels the Second Chamber breathing down its neck to apply the guarantee function. An instruction is a milder form to influence the process.”

Parliamentarian Gert-Jan Segers (ChristianUnion) understands the decision by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to give an instruction, but he adds: “It is painful that because of such a decision we become each-others’ adversaries in the kingdom. However, it is necessary when integrity and honesty are at stake. Those are the highest standards and values we have. This does not affect the Netherlands directly, but it does affect the population of St. Maarten.”

To prevent humiliation of the Caribbean islands in the future, D’Oliveira sees a solution in the suggestion Oberon Nauta does in the Nederlands Juristen Blad: “He suggests letting the governor be present as much as possible in the Council of Ministers of the Caribbean countries. Formally he is the chairman of these councils, but in practice he is seldom there. If he chairs the council and proposals arise that violate the rules of integrity, the governor is able to intervene in the seclusion of such a meeting. That is less painful.”

Segers says that there is a need to establish an independent institution to solve disputes in the kingdom fast because of the recent developments. “That flaw avenges itself now. It is bad that the countries have no possibility to appeal a decision. That has to be repaired during the evaluation in 2015.”

Bakhuis is curious about what would happen if the governor decides not to sign a national decree and to present this decision to the Kingdom Council of Ministers. “That way it is possible to elicit an assessment from the Council of State about the lawfulness of the decisions that have been taken.”


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