The Daily Herald writes that victims of violent crimes on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be able to get financial compensation from a special fund in the Netherlands in the foreseeable future, Dutch State Secretary Fred Teeven pledged in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament earlier this week. Teeven made this promise during a general debate with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Safety and Justice on Wednesday. The policy of the Dutch government regarding victims was the main agenda point of this meeting.
Committee Member Jeroen Recourt of the Labour Party PvdA urged the State Secretary to make the Fund for Compensation Violent Crimes (Schadefonds Geweldsmisdrijven) accessible for the Dutch public entities and to amplify the policy of the Dutch government where this fund is concerned. Recourt made clear that he didn’t agree with the initial observation of the State Secretary to only look into the proposal to include the Caribbean Netherlands in the victim fund until after the general constitutional evaluation in 2015. Recourt asked Teeven not to wait until 2016 to implement the proposal to include the Caribbean Netherlands, because it is important that victims of violent crimes on the islands can also get financial assistance. “When you say that you are one country, you should also tie the positive consequences to that,” Recourt said in an invited comment.
The State Secretary agreed and promised to arrange to hook up the islands to the victim fund in the course of next year. Initially Teeven had informed the Second Chamber in a letter of July 2013 that he wanted to wait with the decision taking, considering the agreement to hold off on introducing new legislation until after the 2015 evaluation had taken place.
Recourt further told Teeven that victim assistance in the Caribbean Netherlands should be of a made-to-tailor format, taking into account the special circumstances and the small scale of the islands. “The islands are not helped with a massive Dutch setup. We should organise it in such a way that it fits the local situation,” the Member of Parliament (MP) said. Recourt was referring to a March 2013 letter of Teeven and Minister of Safety and Justice Ivo Opstelten in which they responded to the report of the Council for the Maintenance of Law regarding assistance to crime victims in the Caribbean Netherlands. Teeven and Opstelten reported that a “practical facilities” would be set up on St. Eustatius and Saba to cater to the “primary needs” of victims on the islands with the help of volunteers and the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS. The island’s small scale will be taken into account.
The Council for the Maintenance of Law had concluded that the Bureau Victim Assistance was operational for the Caribbean Netherlands and that it functioned properly, despite its shortcomings. According to the Council, the bureau carried out assistance in a “practical and driven approach that puts the victim first.” The Council recommended looking into the possibilities of setting up assistance for victims of domestic violence. The Minister and State Secretary promised to do so, taking into account the small scale of the islands and the limited local level of facilities. The Ministry of VWS will be involved in this exercise. The Netherlands is subject to the European treaty to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. This responsibility includes the Caribbean Netherlands.