Pledge to help tackle domestic violence


THE HAGUE–Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus promised during his visit to St. Eustatius and Saba two weeks ago to improve cooperation with local authorities to tackle domestic violence.

Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops stated this in a letter he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament last week Friday, in which he elaborated on the working visit he and Grapperhaus had paid to the Windward Islands from April 29 to May 3.

During the visit to St. Eustatius, Grapperhaus and Knops with representatives of the care sector, the public entity St. Eustatius and justice services about domestic violence and child abuse, among other things.

“It was agreed to strengthen the cooperation between the National Government, the National Government Services and the local government services regarding these themes of priority,” Knops stated.

He also reported on a “profound” meeting he and Grapperhaus had had in Saba with social workers who are involved in supporting families in which a combination of problems has resulted in “severe situations, especially when children are involved.”

Saba’s small scale and limited options create additional challenges, it was concluded. “The involvement and cooperation of all partners, including the community police officer, Court of Guardianship and psychiatric specialist, command deep respect,” stated Knops. Grapperhaus has agreed to assist in updating the legal framework in this area.

While in Saba, Grapperhaus and Knops met with the Island Council. Discussed were the different aspects of drug abuse and making a joint effort to prevent it, border control, law enforcement and accessibility of the police in relation to the management from Bonaire.

In his letter, Knops also expounded on the meeting he and Grapperhaus had had in St. Eustatius with the Social Advisory Council, which was installed after the Dutch Government intervened in the island government early February this year.

“During this meeting, we were able to get a good view of the important role that this body plays in the discussion about priorities and concrete measures that should help St. Eustatius to advance. The members of the Advisory Council not only have a lot of contact with the temporary administration, but they are also in close touch with their own network on the island,” Knops said.

The Social Advisory Council presented a petition to Grapperhaus which addressed the importance of having a notary in St. Eustatius on a regular basis and creating the possibility for notaries in St. Maarten to authenticate acts in St. Eustatius and Saba.

The meeting of Grapperhaus and Knops with the staff of the National Government Commissioner was deemed valuable. “Their enthusiasm and dedication provide hope for the future, even though for them as well the tangible improvements, of course, are more important than the intentions.”

National Government Commissioner Mike Franco provided an update on the work that has been done since the Dutch intervention. According to Knops, making a connection with the population has been a focal point.

Town hall meetings have been organised where people could express their feelings. A lot has been invested in the government administration. The weekly walk-in hour of the National Government Commissioner has proven to serve a great need. Knops promised the Second Chamber a more detailed progress report on St. Eustatius before June 1.

Both in St. Eustatius and in Saba, the delegation visited several reconstruction projects that were initiated after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. In St. Eustatius, Grapperhaus and Knops launched the campaign to remove car wrecks. In Saba, they were present at the inauguration of the new water transport system from Fort Bay Harbour to The Bottom which ensures sufficient, quality and affordable drinking water for the people.

Knops is currently on a visit to the Windward Islands to accompany Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. They were in St. Eustatius on Sunday afternoon and in Saba on Sunday evening. The delegation travels from Saba to St. Maarten this morning, Monday.

Source: The Daily Herald