Tuesday , March 28 2023

Public entities’ status to be secured – Second Chamber approves plan to ammend constitution

The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament approved on Tuesday the law proposal to amend the Constitution to incorporate the constitutional basis of Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The actual change to the Constitution will take place in or after 2017.

All parties voted for the law proposal, with the exception of the Party for Freedom PVV and the Christian Union (CU). This means that 130 of the 150 Members of Parliament voted in favour of the law proposal, which not only secures the public entity status, but also regulates the indirect voting right of island residents for the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, the Senate, via their Island Council.

The CU is against initiating the process to adapt the Constitution before the general evaluation of the Dutch public entity status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius
and Saba in 2015. Member of Parliament (MP) Gert- Jan Segers pointed out during the handling of the law proposal last week that it had been agreed with the island governments to hold off on amending the Constitution until after the general evaluation.

The PVV is against any amendment to the Constitution that secures the status of the islands, because it would rather see that the public entities leave of the
Dutch Kingdom, just like the rest of the Dutch Caribbean. According to MP Sietse Fritsma of the PVV, the law proposal does not leave any room for other
constitutional options outside the Kingdom such as full sovereignty.

The change to the Constitution will be implemented after new elections of the Second Chamber in 2017 and only if the majority of the new Second Chamber
at that time votes in favour of the law proposal for the second time.

Waiting to start the process to amend the Constitution until after the general evaluation was not feasible because that would have meant a delay until at least
2020, explained caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies during last week’s debate. She assured that the process would not
hamper the 2015 evaluation. A number of parties in the Second Chamber indicated during that debate that they did not want non-Dutch nationals to have indirect voting rights for the First Chamber because they are allowed to vote in their Island Council elections.

According to the PVV, the Socialist Party (SP) and the conservative VVD party, foreigners residing in the public entities should not be allowed to have any influence on Dutch national policy through the First Chamber, even if their influence is extremely limited. The current law proposal leaves possibilities for finding a solution for this dilemma.

The Second Chamber  rejected a motion of the Democratic D66 Party and the CU to research alternatives for the voting right of non-Dutch nationals on the
islands. Parliament also approved on Tuesday a law proposal to amend the Penal Code of the public entities to broaden the possibilities for Justice to punish forced marriages, polygamy and female genital mutilation. This law proposal, which also serves to adapt the Dutch Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, was approved unanimously.

Source: The Daily Herald, October 24, 2012

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