~ Submission premature, dialogue needed at all levels ~
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — On Wednesday evening, February 23, 2022, the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs learned that an amended or adjusted petition was submitted on behalf of the Parliament of St. Maarten to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. This was done without prior consultation with the parliamentary Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization Committee, the Parliament as representatives of the people, nor the Government of St. Maarten.
After the initial petition was submitted to the UN, the local discussion surrounded the non-inclusion of the Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization Committee, the Parliament and the people of St. Maarten. As a representative of the people of St. Maarten, members of parliament have a duty to ensure that laws and practices are consistent with common ethical principles and local legal obligations being met. As such, Prime Minister Jacobs is of the opinion that the necessary consultation did not take place and that this should still be done, prior to submission of any petitions on behalf of St. Maarten.
These actions without the necessary dialogue between the abovementioned stakeholders, especially in this new era of improved relations being forged between St. Maarten’s Government and the State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Alexandra van Huffelen, can be seen as counterproductive to open and transparent dialogue between Kingdom partners. Parliament at all times is expected to champion the rights of the people whom they represent, however it should be done in consultation with, and approval of its members in a strategic manner.
Additionally, Prime Minister Jacobs and the Council of Ministers are still awaiting the comprehensive multi-annual plan which was promised in accordance with MP Heyliger-Marten’s motion related to the petition of June 30, 2021, wherein the timeline, as well as proposed actions would be submitted to government for review. Once received, an extensive review will be carried out and comprehensive feedback provided by the Government of St. Maarten via the Prime Minister to the House of Parliament. As such, this action of re-submission of the petition, supposedly on behalf of the Parliament and by extension the people of St. Maarten, is deemed highly pre-mature, and we look forward to this being rectified soonest in the interest of openness and transparency between the executive and legislative branches of government.