Johnson continues fight for equal old-age pension | THE DAILY HERALD

Will Johnson.


SABA–Former politician Will Johnson continues his fight for an equal general old-age pension on the island. In his fight for an AOV pension equal to the Dutch AOW state pension Johnson is being assisted in his quest by lawyer and former politician Michiel Bijkerk from Bonaire.

Johnson’s fight is not new. The former politician and Bijkerk have both been working on this case since 2013. Until now, their plight has not yielded any success, especially not at the Dutch Courts. This, however, does not deter him from presenting his case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

Johnson is still very much against the unequal treatment of residents in the Caribbean Netherlands where the old-age pension is concerned compared with their counterparts in the Caribbean Netherlands.

“I am highly respected by many in the Kingdom,” he said on the BES Reporter news website. “In their system they respect when you challenge their decisions. They claim that our relationship with the Dutch is of such a nature that we [residents of the Caribbean Netherlands – Ed.] are not entitled to the same benefits as those in the Netherlands.”

According to the Dutch government, the differences in the general old-age pension between the Dutch and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom are not discriminatory.

In a letter sent by the Dutch State to the UN Human Rights Committee, the Dutch government repeats its position that the equalization of the Caribbean old-age pension with the Dutch state pension would damage the economy of the islands.

“Disruption of the economic system [of the islands – Ed.] would have disastrous consequences for both the Caribbean and the Dutch part of the Kingdom,” BES Reporter said in quoting the letter signed by agent to the European Court for Human Rights for the Government of the Netherlands Babette Koopman.

“It is therefore, that the distinction between the provision between the Dutch and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom does not constitute discrimination,” Koopman reportedly stated at the end of the letter. It is not yet clear when the case will be dealt with by the Human Rights Committee.

Johnson confirmed that he is still fighting for equal pension rights. “Seeing that Holland collected a lot more taxes in the island than they previously admitted to, an increase in the old-age pension will neither bankrupt Holland or the islands. Take the case of the Comoros islands. One of the islands voted to go back under France and they get the same benefits as French nationals. It has not bankrupted France and the other islands in the Comoros are happy that one of their islands is prosperous enough to help the others,” Johnson commented on Facebook.

“I understand that attorney Bijkerk made a calculation and that it would cost the average Dutchman US $0.16 a month to equalize the pension on the three islands which fall directly under Holland,” he said.

“We started this back in 2013 already through the Courts, so it is an ongoing process. If this is going to bankrupt the Kingdom then perhaps they can cancel all the useless military equipment they are going to buy on Trump’s orders,” Johnson said in another Facebook comment.

Johnson and Bijkerk have until September 27 to submit a response to the Dutch government’s arguments to the UN Committee. After the written exchange of arguments, a hearing is very likely to follow. It may, therefore, take quite some time before the Committee makes a formal decision.

Source: The Daily Herald