THE HAGUE–The Governments of St. Maarten and the Netherlands will enter into negotiations to arrive at a new text for the National Ordinance to establish the St. Maarten Integrity Chamber based on the contours of the ruling of the St. Maarten Constitutional Court. The process to implement the General Measure of the Kingdom Government will be stopped. St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin spoke of a “victory.”
At the end of an almost 3-hour session including four interruptions for consultation, hosted by the Council of State of the Kingdom in The Hague on Thursday, the St. Maarten and Dutch Government signed an agreement. The agreement stated that the negotiations between the two countries will take place in an open manner, without the involvement of the quarter masters of the Integrity Chamber, Raymond Begina of St. Maarten and Hans Leijtens of the Netherlands.
The St. Maarten Council of Ministers will promote that the new National Ordinance to regulate the establishing, functioning and funding of the Integrity Chamber will have been passed by the St. Maarten Parliament by October 31, 2017.
Chairperson of the Council of State session Winnie Sorgdrager emphasised that the agreement obligated the St. Maarten Government to make an effort to have the legislation passed. This was a sensitive point for the St. Maarten delegation which didn’t want to be pinned down to a pledge that bypassed the authority of the St. Maarten Parliament as lawmaker, as well as the authority and input of the local Advisory Council and the Governor.
As part of the agreement, the Council of State requested the Dutch delegation, which consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and legal counsel J.W. Severijne, to facilitate the withdrawal of the request for advice by the Council of State of the Kingdom on the draft AMvRB law.
Prime Minister Marlin especially found this to be an important result of Thursday’s session. “This basically ends the process initiated by the Netherlands basically to order an Integrity Chamber, facilitated and paid for by the Dutch, via an AMvRB,” he told The Daily Herald after the session.
“What we argued all this time, namely that the Netherlands cannot walk away because it doesn’t like the way things go, and then go to the Kingdom Council of Ministers under the disguise that there was a dispute that could not be solved otherwise,” said Marlin, who was joined by the entire cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague. St. Maarten’s legal counsel was former Antillean Justice Minister Rutsel Martha.