THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk informed St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin regarding the appointment of Hans Leijtens as quartermaster for the St. Maarten Integrity Chamber by letter on January 30.
Plasterk’s letter was released this week as part of a request by an unknown party on the basis of the Administrative Transparency Law (“Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur” WOB) which gives citizens the right to request certain information and documents from the Dutch Government.
The petitioner had asked a month ago to receive information on the departure of Leijtens as Director-General of the Dutch Tax Office mid-January. The petitioner, whose identity was not released, also requested information on the agreements regarding Leijtens’ appointment as quartermaster for the St. Maarten Integrity Chamber.
According to Minister Plasterk, there was one document at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK regarding Leijtens’ appointment: a letter to Prime Minister Marlin dated January 30, 2017.
In the letter, Plasterk explained that Leijtens’ appointment on January 23 concerned a “personnel decision” and as such the procedure had a “confidential character.” “As a result, your Government was not informed beforehand. I understood that you and your Government felt surprised. I understand and lament that,” he stated.
Plasterk said he was “convinced” that the appointment of the quartermaster provided “opportunities” for St. Maarten and the cooperation needed to give content to the May 24, 2015, protocol signed by the Netherlands and St. Maarten.
He reminded Marlin that St. Maarten had been given the opportunity to draft its own National Ordinance regarding the Integrity Chamber and to establish said institution. Subsequently, the Dutch Government decided to suspend the process of seeking advice from the Council of State on a General Measure of the Kingdom Government to establish the Integrity Chamber.
However, the national ordinance, initially approved by the St. Maarten Parliament, was annulled by the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten following a petition by the St. Maarten Ombudsman. “After that no visible progress was made from my perspective,” stated Plasterk.
“St. Maarten has the opportunity in the coming period to make use of Leijtens’ knowhow and experience, partly acquired in your part of the Kingdom. He is willing to introduce himself on short term and to discuss with you and your colleagues how he can contribute to realising the Integrity Chamber,” Plasterk stated.
The petitioner who made the WOB law request did not receive information on Leijtens’ terms of employment. The BZK Ministry contended that this was a private, confidential matter which, based on the same WOB law, does not have to be made public. “The interest of the protection of the personal privacy weighs more heavily than the general interest of making this document public,” stated Plasterk.
The St. Maarten Government was not amused by the one-sided appointment of the quartermaster and issued a warning to all civil servants to refrain from meeting with Leijtens. Marlin and Plasterk had an extensive talk in Aruba last month to discuss the matter. Plasterk stated at that time that parties had decided to continue talks in the coming weeks. No other information was provided on that meeting.