The Daily Herald writes that pensions for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba may differ from pensions in the European Netherlands, the Joint Court has stated in the appeal case of three residents of the islands against the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.
According to the three appellants, their lower pensions are in violation of anti-discrimination stipulations in several treaties, among which are the European Human Rights Treaty, the Dutch Constitution and the Kingdom Statute.
Residents in the Caribbean Netherlands receive a pension that is lower than their counterparts in the European Netherlands obtain. In the appeal case, the Court only considered whether the difference is legitimate or in contravention of anti-discrimination stipulations. The Court did not look into the question if and to what extent pensions on Bonaire, Statia and Saba are to differ from pensions in the European Netherlands. According to the Court of Appeals, this question is of a political nature, which should be answered by lawmakers.
The Court disagrees with the three residents and is of the opinion that the Law General Old Age Insurance BES does not make a distinction based on territorial differences. The level of old-age pension differs on how long persons have worked in the European Netherlands or on the islands.
In the second place, it is also of importance where pensioners have contributed to their pensions while they were working. The Court also established that the law does not make any distinction based on ethnicity, because residents of the Caribbean Netherlands cannot be considered one “social group.”
The Appeals Court is further of the opinion that the differences in the level of pensions made in the law are serving a legitimate purpose, because lawmakers were entitled to set certain rules to avoid economic and social disruption after the constitutional changes of October 10, 2010.
The law is also not disproportionate because the pensions in Bonaire, Statia and Saba are related to the minimum wage, similar to the European part of the Netherlands, the Court said.
Finally, the Court also took into consideration that the pension is not meant to guarantee a minimum level of existence, but only is a basic pension that may be enlarged by pensioners themselves.
The three appellants, represented by lawyer Michiel Bijkerk, have announced they will now submit their cases to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.