The Daily Herald writes today that the Statia Island Council needed a special meeting on Sunday, October 19, to decide on the request of the Referendum Committee to hire three external experts for advice on the options on the ballot for the planned constitutional referendum. Only one out of three candidates, Judge at the Caribbean Court of Justice Jacob “Bob” Wit, was accepted.
The Island Council wants a constitutional referendum on the future status of Statia to be held no later than December 31, 2014. The Council is expecting an advice on the options no later than today, Wednesday.
The meeting, which was chaired by Island Governor Gerald Berkel, was attended by Island Council members Elvin Henriquez, Reuben Merkman, Milicent Lijfrock-Marsdin and Franklin Brown. Adelka Spanner was absent.
“The external advisors are required to assess the validity and viability of the options that should go onto the ballot, to give advice on their wording and also to assist with the contents of the information campaign. In order to assure as much as possible a neutral and unbiased referendum, we deemed it wise to select three advisers – each with their own expertise and background: one from the Netherlands, one from the Dutch Caribbean and one without any ties to the Netherlands,” the Referendum Committee wrote in their advice to the Island Council.
The Committee proposed the appointment of Professor emeritus International Public Law at University of Utrecht Alfred Soons, former political advisor to three chairs of the United Nations Decolonization Committee Carlyle Corbin and Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice and President of the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten Jacob Wit.
Independent Councilman Reuben Merkman reminded those present that the task of the Referendum Committee is primarily to supervise the referendum to guarantee its proper and unbiased execution.
Independent council member Millicent Lijfrock-Marsdin and Franklin Brown of St. Eustatius Empowerment Party STEP had a problem with Soons since he is also a member of the Evaluation Committee.
Brown also expressed to have an issue with Corbin’s appointment, since information seemed to be “that he had also been hired by Commissioner Zaandam,” said Brown.
Despite the fact that Merkman expressed his opinion that “all three are capable and that one should look at their merits” when the votes were cast, there were none for Soons and Corbin. There were four votes in favour of Judge Wit.