In 2019 the National Ombudsman will carry out a lot more research into the functioning of the government on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. For example into the police, immigration service and poverty.
Research into poverty on the islands is remarkable, because there are already several reports from Unicef, Regioned and Nibud. Despite all these reports, the Cabinet is not succeeding in setting the so-called social minimum for Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
According to Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen, his research comes with ‘solutions’ for The Hague, so that families and children are ‘pulled out of poverty’. According to Van Zutphen, practical solutions have more priority than setting an amount that someone needs to be able to live on.
“I want to know whether there are facilities on the islands as we know them in the Netherlands and whether people are being helped out of debt,” says Van Zutphen. Also at the Tax and Customs Administration will be checked whether sufficient account is taken of people in debt.
Police under scrutiny
Other government agencies will also be investigated. There will also be an investigation into the functioning of the police on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Van Zutphen wants to know if police officers are ‘sensitive enough’ for complaints from citizens. “There are a number of problems on the islands, such as domestic violence, that really needs to be tackled.”
About the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) on the islands, a research report will be published in early 2019.
‘Sometimes I feel like a Bonairean myself’
When it comes to dealing with complaints, Van Zutphen is ‘hopeful’ about the attitude of local officials. “In particular with the public bodies, I found that there was still some that could change the service, the citizen-friendliness and the speed. Sometimes I feel myself a Bonairean, because I do not get any answers either. But I’m slowly seeing a change there. “
Last but not least, ‘the bosses’ (the island councilors, the administrators and top civil servants), says Van Zutphen. Next year, the Ombudsman will therefore hold a special training course in the hope that ‘those who have the say’ will ensure that complaints are better handled.
More money for complaints and research
In contrast to the previous cabinet in the Netherlands, the National Ombudsman and Children’s Ombudsman of the current Rutte-III government received more money for the Caribbean ‘municipalities’. As a result, there can be significantly more consultation hours and research on complaints that residents have about the functioning of government bodies.
Under the previous cabinet with Minister Ronald Plasterk (Interior and Kingdom Relations) that extra money did not come. “I said then: I really need a little more money to do my job on the islands. I did not get that then. “
Caribisch Netwerk – NTR