Donner takes responsibility for screening in Curaçao

THE HAGUE--Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner took full responsibility for the screening process of Curaçao and St. Maarten Ministers during a debate with the Second Chamber on Thursday.

Donner stood squarely behind the Governors of Curaçao and St. Maarten in their findings that the Ministers were suitable to govern. "I have full confidence in the Governor," he stated, specifically referring to Governor Frits Goedgedrag of Curaçao. Thursday's debate focused on the screening of Ministers in Curaçao, although St. Maarten was also mentioned in connection with former Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus. Key was the guarantee function of the Kingdom Government to guarantee good governance, human rights and legal security.

Parties in the Second Chamber, including Donner's own Christian Democratic Party CDA, sought clarification from the Minister on the screening process in Curaçao which took place after the Schotte cabinet had taken office, and not prior to the installation of the new cabinet on October 10, 2010.

CDA Member of Parliament (MP) Bas Jan van Bochove, Martijn van Dam of the Labour Party PvdA, Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP), Wassila Hachchi of the democratic D66 party and Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union (CU) asked Donner to explain the procedure. They didn't buy the Governor's argument that it concerned a cabinet which was already installed and that dismissal would not be opportune.

According to the Members of Parliament the Governor's careful considered formulation of his motivation only fuels suspicion that indeed something is wrong with members of the Schotte cabinet. The MP's wondered whether the Ministers in Curaçao would still have been appointed if the screening had taken place prior to the installation of the cabinet.

"Ministers were appointed who never should have been appointed, but they were allowed to stay on because they were already there," said Van Raak (SP). Van Dam (PvdA) said that the fact that Ministers were already installed could never be a moderating circumstance. Donner maintained that the appointment of Minister was an issue of Curaçao's Parliament and not of the Second Chamber. "The matter of screening and confidence in Ministers is an issue for Parliament there, not here," he said.

Donner made clear that he saw no reason to submit the appointment of the ministers for annulment. "The Governor handled correctly," he said. Van Raak accused the Minister of "dodging" his responsibility for good governance in the Kingdom.

Van Dam said that by assuming this position, Minister Donner had taken "total responsibility" for the screening of Ministers in Curaçao. "The Minister put the stamp 'Approved' on Curaçao's cabinet," said Van Dam. Van Raak immediately drew the conclusion that Dutch Parliament could hold Donner responsible if in the future a Minister in Curaçao surfaced who should not have been appointed.

Van Raak submitted a motion requesting the Dutch Government to initiate an independent, objective screening of the members of Curaçao's cabinet. Not many parties are expected to support this motion. Donner advised against the motion because it wouldn't be correct for The Hague to decide how screening takes place on the islands. Voting on the motion takes place Tuesday.

Hero Brinkman of the Party for Freedom PVV suggested invoking article 50 of the Charter which provides the possibility of submitting a decision of a country for annulment by the Kingdom. That way the decision to install Curaçao's cabinet could be annulled and government there placed on non-active while an independent investigation takes place.

Minister Donner will take along article 50 in the vision on the Kingdom which he will present to the Second Chamber in April in consultation with the islands overseas. The use of article 43, the guarantee function, will also be addressed in that vision.

Donner said that it should be a "shared' vision as much as possible. "If the vision is only about enforcing and not about shared values in the Kingdom, we might as well cancel the entire structure because otherwise it will become a pressure organization."

According to Donner, the guarantee function is not the chore of the Kingdom and as such it should not be the main issue in the Kingdom vision. He said that making the guarantee function the chore of the Kingdom whereby the Netherlands functioned as a "police officer on the islands" was "colonial."

Hachchi of D66 suggested requesting the Kingdom Council of State to give its view on the relations in the Kingdom. She said this could only strengthen the vision. She made a case for cooperation in the Kingdom with each country assuming its own responsibility.

10 February 2011

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