PHILIPSBURG–The Parliament of Aruba has not yet handled a proposal from the Washington DC-based Choharis Law Group, which the Parliament of St. Maarten approached to assist with the completion of the process of decolonising the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles and seeking reparations from the Netherlands.
The intention is to include Curaçao and Aruba in the process and each of the three countries is to pay a fixed fee of US $7,000 per month, which the law firm stated represents a 91 per cent discount. Up to recently Curaçao also had not yet handled the proposal.
President of Aruba’s Parliament Ady Thijsen told The Daily Herald, “We didn’t handle this proposal yet, but it is an item we considered and will discuss.”
The move by the Parliament of St. Maarten to approach the law firm has come in for some amount of criticism locally, but Chairperson of St. Maarten’s Parliament Rolando Brison said recently that the presidium of Parliament has the right to engage in legal support and called concerns over the proposal, just opinions.
Brison said the idea is to share the cost amongst the three countries once that is finalised, but he indicated that negotiations are still taking place with Curaçao and Aruba and the firm. “The proposal is just that – a proposal,” Brison said.
The Choharis Law Group sent the engagement agreement for Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten to Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten on October 1, and she in turn forwarded it to Brison and first Vice-Chairperson of Parliament William Marlin. The proposal was also forwarded to Curaçao and Aruba.
In the retainer agreement, Peter Choharis stated that he was delighted that “the parliaments, political parties, foundations, individuals and/or other civil society members of Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten” had retained the law firm to work on the islands’ behalf.
The agreement states that the law firm would be paid a contingency fee of 0.085 per cent of the reparations the Netherlands would pay, if awarded. The rest, 99.915 per cent would go to the countries.
It is stated in the agreement that the law firm will provide legal services, including counselling, strategic advice, negotiations and similar services requested by the countries in protecting and promoting their goals and interests, and to achieve their objectives.
The first action would be to pursue efforts in the United Nations (UN) and international bodies. The law firm would assist the countries in reaching out to the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and to the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
These UN bodies would be asked to examine and report on the situation in the three Dutch Caribbean countries.
The law firm would assist the countries in their efforts to attract regional and international support for the 2021 round table conference (RTC) negotiations, from organisations such as the Caribbean Community CARICOM and the CARICOM Reparations Committee, members of the Dutch government, Dutch parliamentarians and others.
The law firm would further assist Curaçao, Aruba and St. Maarten in reviewing the construction that has “prevented them from securing their rights and sovereignty” and the “practical operation of various legal institutions within the Kingdom that have resulted in the ongoing denial of human rights” in the countries.
As for the RTC, the law firm would assist with the development of a strategy for the RTC negotiations, in the form of helping to structure the format, to develop agendas, to draft and review legal political reform proposals, and, if needed, direct support for the negotiation teams at the RTC itself. The end result should be the signing of an agreement with the Dutch government in July 2021.
The law firm will assist the countries in pursuing damages from the Netherlands for the injuries and deprivations the Dutch inflicted on the islands and their people during Dutch colonialism and slavery, violations of international legal obligations in the post-World War II period, and the legacy harms that will continue to injure the islands and their citizens for the foreseeable future.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/aruba-s-parliament-has-not-handled-law-firm-s-proposal