Wescot-Williams seeks clarity on status of Kingdom law

Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Kingdom law dubbed “Van Oven law” finally saw its completion at the hands of former MP van Laar.

This law, often heralded by the Dutch Caribbean countries seeks to limit the issuance of general measures of the Kingdom government without a legal basis. In other words, no “higher supervision” can be imposed without a basis in or by Kingdom law. General Kingdom measures are issued by the Kingdom government and do not require parliamentary approval.

There are 2 noteworthy facts relevant to this law.

  1. This is the law that was used to propose an amendment allowing members of parliament of Aruba, Curaçao or St. Maarten to initiate a Kingdom law. (This amendment did not make it, but the Council of State did offer an interesting alternative.)
  1. However, by this law excluding general Kingdom measures, which are mandated in the Kingdom charter, the imposition of higher supervision on the basis of article 51 of the charter, is NOT conditional upon a legal basis.

This in my opinion is a pity. It is exactly that article 51 of the charter that is tied to the guarantee function of the Kingdom, laid down in article 43 of the charter. So the debate about Kingdom intervention based on the so-called guarantee function is far from settled.

Nevertheless, the “van Oven/van Laar law” has finally been passed and must now be accepted by the Caribbean countries. It is evident that changes to the charter of the Kingdom are tedious to come by and can take years.

This acceptance has to be done by National Ordinance, so it has to be passed by the parliaments. Hence my questions to the Prime Minister regarding the status. Minister Plasterk has repeatedly stated that he has informed the government of St. Maarten of the passage of the law and is awaiting “our” reaction.

Contents of letter from MP Wescot to the Prime Minister of St. Maarten:

The Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Mr. R. Plasterk has repeatedly informed the Dutch parliament that he is awaiting the reaction of the Dutch Caribbean countries to the “van Oven/van Laar law,” amending the Charter of the Kingdom.

Has the government of St. Maarten received this notification? If so, what steps have been taken regarding this matter? If so, can I be provided with these notifications by the Dutch minister?

As I consider this matter of critical importance, I kindly ask that you provide this information as soon as possible.