Friday , December 1 2023

Visit of High Court President

President of the High Court of the Netherlands Geert Corstens is currently visiting the Dutch Caribbean, writes the Daily Herald. The High Court President was on St. Maarten on Monday.
Today, Tuesday, Corstens will be visiting Saba for a meeting with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and on Wednesday he will be meeting Island Governor Gerald Berkel on St. Eustatius.
On Friday, the High Court President will be in Curaçao for meetings with judges and the Coast Guard. Last week, Corstens also was on Curaçao, as well as on Bonaire and Aruba. On Aruba, he witnessed the opening of the new courthouse. On that occasion he mentioned the importance of the Joint Court of Justice in the Caribbean part of the kingdom. “The Joint Court is one of the pillars of the constitutional state. In a democratic constitutional state government is also subject to the law, which includes guarantees for everybody’s individual freedom.” Human rights are the “backbone” of society, said Corstens. “We must cherish these and try not to cut back. In a constitutional state government contributes to mutual respect of the law between citizens. It throws up a dam against people taking the law into their own hands. In a constitutional state the law is applied equally to everyone and there exists a division of power to enable freedom for every one of us. Therefore, there is a division between the legislative, executive and judicial powers. If necessary, civilians should be able to enforce their rights and access to an independent and professional judge is crucial in this respect.” The High Court President said that guaranteeing equality of rights is especially challenging for the Joint Court of Justice as it has to deal with five legal “families,” consisting of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES) law and Dutch law, including important European human rights law.
Corstens said it was a “pleasure” for the High Court to serve the Joint Court and society on the islands through legislation in cases in which cassation, a legal appeal to verdicts issued by the Joint Court, is possible. “Through this the High Court can contribute to maintaining high-quality and confidence-building legislation in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom,” he said. Corstens said it was important to prevent discrepancies in legislation, but that differences based on local circumstances were acceptable. However, systematic and unnecessary differences should be avoided because this would hamper the control function of cassation legislation, he said.
In pointing at the services the High Court is providing, Corstens also pointed to the possibility of constitutional appeal. According to the constitutions of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, the High Court may examine national ordinances for compatibility with the constitution. The President said the High Court was willing to give more content to this task, in case this was deemed necessary.

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