Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen shares the view of the Netherlands Human Rights Council that the differences in the protection of human rights between the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands must be eliminated as much as possible. The state secretary wrote this on Tuesday in her reply to a March 14 letter of the Human Rights Council. The latter voiced its concerns about the protection of human rights in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the fact that a number of important international human rights conventions are (still) not applicable to the islands, while equal treatment legislation is not in effect either.
The Council said it was content with the moves of the Dutch government to implement the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women in the Caribbean Netherlands. At the same time, the Council pointed out that other human rights conventions still had to be implemented, including the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention against Torture.
The Council pointed out that citizens in the Netherlands, and that includes the Caribbean Netherlands, have a right to a similar protection of human rights, despite their residency area. “Therefore, it is of great importance that the Dutch government at once eliminates the formal, factual difference in human rights protection between the Caribbean Netherlands and the Netherlands.”
Advisory Council for International Issues AIV in the Netherlands in 2018 advised that the deviating regime between the Netherlands and the Caribbean Netherlands with regard to human rights needed to be eliminated. The Human Rights Council agrees with AIV.
According to both AIV and the Human Rights Council, the limited government capacity in the Caribbean part of the kingdom should not be a reason not to implement human rights conventions for the islands. “To the contrary; this should be an additional stimulant for the government to further intensify the collaboration and support from the Netherlands in this area,” stated the Human Rights Council.
In her letter to the Human Rights Council, State Secretary Van Huffelen explained that the Dutch ministries and the public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba were working towards the enforcement of the Istanbul Convention. Where it concerns the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it has been decided to implement this through a more individual approach. The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS has allocated funding to the public entities to execute projects in this area.
The public entities have been busy adapting houses of persons with disabilities and making public areas more accessible. Also, the Dutch government has been financing projects to build homes and facilities for persons with disabilities, and funding has been allocated to prepare facilities in education and day care for children with extra care or support needs.
The state secretary promised to look at the possibilities to speed up the implementation of the human rights conventions for the Caribbean Netherlands.
She pledged that the inventory of what is needed to implement equal treatment legislation for the Caribbean Netherlands, a matter that has been pending since 2020, will be concluded this year.
The Daily Herald.