THE HAGUE–Make long-term investments in the Dutch Caribbean countries’ law enforcement system, focus on a tailor-made approach and invest more in local ownership. These are some of the recommendations in the policy evaluation report on article 1 of the budget for Kingdom Relations, the so-called guarantee function.
State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops sent the 53-page report to the Dutch Parliament on Friday. The report includes an analysis of the strengthening of the law enforcement systems in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten based on the input of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, the Royal Dutch Marechaussee, the Court and the Prosecutor’s Offices.
The report included six main recommendations. The first was to rename article 1, the guarantee function, as, for example, “strengthening law enforcement and security,” as this would clarify the implementation of the budget article and better support the countries’ autonomous responsibility.
The second recommendation was to focus more on the specific situations of the countries, which have small executing organisations and departments. “Check what is manageable and finish what you start.” The setting of priorities is needed. A lot is started, but not finished, according to the report.
The third recommendation was to choose an approach that fits long-term issues, and not to opt for a (short-term) project approach and related financing in these cases.
Recommendation four was to take the specific circumstances per island into consideration and to provide custom-fit work, and to seek, if applicable, a connection with the region, the other Dutch Caribbean islands and on an international level.
The fifth recommendation was to focus more on local ownership and create urgency in this aspect. “Invest in knowhow management and make it more appealing for local people who have completed their studies elsewhere to work in the Dutch Caribbean countries. Strive for a workable balance between what the islands want and the interests of the Kingdom. Invest more in the developing of local talent, and organise a fall-back when the expatriate expert has returned.” Creating (more) trust between expatriated Dutch personnel and local personnel was deemed important.
The sixth recommendation has to do with the constitutionally different status between the countries Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten on the one hand and the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba on the other. “Make this constitutional differentiation less leading in practice than currently is applied, because differences are created that are hardly explainable.”
Generally, it was concluded that it is hard to quantify the effect of the financing for law enforcement on the islands by the Dutch Government, but the contribution is of great importance to the quality of law enforcement and security.
Key players in the law enforcement sector indicated that without this assistance from the Netherlands, (legal) security would be in jeopardy and there would be a great risk of the islands ending up in a negative spiral that could end with a situation where the islands would be at the mercy of international organised crime.
The persons interviewed in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten by the research team said The Hague was taking the large differences between the individual islands insufficiently into account and there was little understanding of these differences “on the other side of the ocean.” Sometimes the islands unjustly enlarged the mutual differences based on “historical sentiment.”
The interviewed persons were also under the impression that The Hague often responded to incidents and that an integrated approach was lacking. Furthermore, the key players found that projects often did not last long enough, with a bad investment as the ultimate result. “The metaphor of the cart that is pushed up the hill, but not over it, is applicable: it rolls back.”
Some aspects of the law enforcement sector received little attention, such as the penitentiary system, which caused an imbalance in the law enforcement sector. The interviewees noted that there was a great difference between the developing of and the investments in the law enforcement sector in the public entities and in the autonomous countries, with the first set of islands receiving direct aid from the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice.
Also mentioned by many of the interviewees was the fact that success was often related to the qualities of individual persons: whether something was successful or not depended on the person in charge. When there is a strong leader heading the department, he or she is often not surrounded by a supportive framework. At the same time, the importance was emphasised of local people assuming a stronger role in the law enforcement sector. Hence, the desire for more local ownership.
The evaluation, which has to take place at least every seven years, covers the period from October 2010, the time the new constitutional relations went into effort, up to the end of 2016. It assessed whether the policy instruments of article 1 to support legal security, good governance and human rights in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten were efficiently applied.
Article 1 of the budget for Kingdom Relations is based on article 43 of the Kingdom Charter which states that the autonomous countries carry the responsibility for legal security, proper governance and human rights. The second part of this article states that the Kingdom has a guarantee function in these areas and can intervene if the countries are unable to comply with this responsibility.
In total, the Dutch Government invested more than 74.4 million euros under article 1 in 2016. In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK and the Ministry of Security and Justice invested 22 million euros in 2016 and 2017 to combat subversive crime in Curaçao and St. Maarten by the special TBO team. This financing will continue in the next four years, up to 2021, to the tune of 12 million euros per year.
“The subversion of the public administration is considered one of the most persistent forms of crime. This expresses itself in the close ties between the underworld and upper world and forms a serious threat to the proper functioning of the public administration and public institutions. This also impacts the population,” it was stated in the evaluation report.
Law enforcement is insufficiently equipped and too small to tackle these subversive elements. “Only a consequential and consistent approach regarding international and inter-regional forms of crime, together with the islands, can result in positive social effects.”
State Secretary Knops has promised the Dutch Parliament that he will send his reaction to the report and its recommendations early 2018.