PvdA proposal for Kingdom Integrity Committee at Kingdom Conference

The Daily Herald writes that Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk will pitch the proposal of Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA to install a Kingdom Integrity Committee, secured through a Kingdom Law, at the upcoming Kingdom Conference. Plasterk promised members of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations during a debate on Tuesday that he would take up this dea with the governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten at the Kingdom Conference on Curaçao on June 16. He pointed out that the Kingdom Integrity Law would have to materialise by consensus with the other countries.

According to Van Laar, a Kingdom Integrity Committee (Rijkscommissie Integriteit) through a Kingdom Law (Rijkswet) would be the best way for the countries to jointly safeguard and promote integrity and good governance in the Kingdom, to tackle corrupt members of government and to do something about the ties between the under and upper world in the Dutch Caribbean. He said such a law was needed considering the “limited self-cleaning capacity” of the countries. The Kingdom Council of Minister would appoint the Kingdom Committee based on the Kingdom Law, which would contain “clear integrity norms.” The Committee would supervise integrity in government, assess whether the countries were tackling integrity issues in a correct and effective manner and come with recommendations on how to do things better, Van Laar explained.

This system would provide an “escalation ladder” and a joint structure carried by the countries based on which the level of governance would be assessed. The Committee could advise the Kingdom Council of Ministers to intervene by imposing an instruction or a General Measure of the Kingdom Government (“Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur” AMvRB). This would make the trajectory more transparent for the countries.

“Currently there is a big gap between doing nothing and direct intervention by the Kingdom Council of Ministers. As a result, there is too little intervention which hurts integrity in government and in the Kingdom. More intervention and cooperation to jointly tackle this issue is needed,” said Van Laar. He said that the people on the islands “longed” for a solid, reliable government. “It is up to The Hague to play a role in this,” he said.

Members of Parliament (MPs) Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) and André Bosman of the Liberal Democratic VVD par-ty immediately questioned the PvdA’s proposal for a Kingdom Integrity Committee. “A Kingdom Law is not enough. It sounds like mopping with an open faucet. We need to close the faucet of bad money corrupting the local politicians,” said Van Raak. Bosman questioned whether there were sufficient impartial, professional people to put on the Kingdom Integrity Committee. He used the opportunity to again vent his 2013 proposal to appoint a Kingdom Prosecutor (Rijksofficier) to tackle corruption and bad governance. “It is high-time for action. Let’s go through with a Kingdom Officer if St. Maarten politicians don’t have the sense of urgency to make integrity a focal point,” he said. This “super prosecutor” as Bosman called it, would have far-reaching powers to investigate and would be able to “follow the money” that dubious persons paid to politicians. The Kingdom Prosecutor would be replaced frequently to avoid attachment to the local community.

Bosman agreed with Van Raak that the problems of trans-bordering crime exceeded the capacity of the islands to handle this on their own. Bosman and Van Raak said the mafia was a “big organisation with lots of money.”

Minister of Safety and Justice Ard van der Steur, who also attended Tuesday’s debate, pointed out that there was already an Attorney General for Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Carib-bean Netherlands islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in the person of Guus Schram, who carried the responsibility of the local Prosecutor’s Offices.

MP Roelof Bisschop of the reformed SGP party said that a Kingdom Integrity Committee or a Kingdom Prosecutor fitted in his idea for a Delta Plan to strengthen the law enforcement system and integrity in government. “We cannot allow the continued blending of the under and upper world. We have to take strict control, with the involvement of the islands. We expect the Netherlands to take the lead and sit on top of the box,” Bisschop said.MP Sietse Fritsma of the Party for Freedom PVV said that no Kingdom Integrity Committee or Kingdom Prosecutor would help because the islands kept objecting to Dutch intervention to tackle corruption. He said that “bad money followed bad politicians” and not the other way around. He said that the mafia kept away from proper, clean countries.

Van Laar said he agreed with Fritsma’s point of view on this. “Fewer members of the mafia will establish in a country with a good, solid political structure,” he said.More on Tuesday’s debate in the Thursday edition of The Daily Herald.

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