THE HAGUE–The First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday approved a law proposal to remove lèse-majesté and insulting befriended heads of state from the penal code. The objections of the St. Maarten government that the country had not been consulted, a stance that received support from a number of parties in the Senate, were put aside.
During the handling last week Tuesday of the initiative law proposal of Member of the Second Chamber Kees Verhoeven of the Democratic Party D66, St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite had a letter delivered to the Senate stating the objections of the St. Maarten government.
In the opinion of the St. Maarten government, the law proposal, which will put lèse-majesté, the disgracing the King in the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands in the same category as insulting uniformed and emergency personnel, has radical consequences, because it affects the entire Kingdom as it concerns the King. Persons who are convicted of this by the Court could get up to four months in jail. Lèse-majesté currently has a jail term of five years.
According to the Charter, the Dutch Caribbean countries need to be consulted in case of a drastic law change. Some parties in the Senate, as well as Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus and Member of Parliament (MP) Verhoeven, who initiated the law proposal, did not think that consultation was necessary in this case.
St. Maarten found Senators Mirjam Bikker of the ChristianUnion, Sophie van Bijsterveld, Pia Lokin-Sassen and Maria Martens, all of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, Diederik van Dijk of the Christian Reformed Party SGP and Henk ten Hoeve of the independent Senate’s party OSF on its side.
Senator Bikker submitted a motion, co-signed by the five senators, which called on initiative taker MP Verhoeven to consult the Dutch Caribbean countries and to postpone the handling of the law proposal until Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten had provided their view. The eight other parties in the Senate, including the larger parties VVD, PvdA, SP, PVV, GroenLinks and D66 voted against Bikker’s motion.
A majority of the Senate did vote in favour of a second motion on this issue. This motion, submitted by Margo Andriessen (D66), requested that the Dutch government, once the law proposal had been approved, get in touch with the St. Maarten government to promote the future involvement of the Dutch Caribbean countries in matters such as this one.
The law proposal itself received the support of all parties, except for CDA, ChristianUnion and SGP, the three parties that had asked to delay the handling until St. Maarten had been consulted.