Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur supports the advice of the Law Enforcement Council (Raad voor de Rechtshandhaving) to increase the gathering of information on corruption in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and to draft an action plan for this purpose.
The Caribbean Netherlands Prosecutor’s Office and the National Detectives will have a crucial role in this plan aimed at improving the gathering of information in the process of detecting and prosecuting of corruption and integrity violations.
“Together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, I will check how to log the nature and size of corruption so additional actions and measures can be formulated,” Van der Steur stated in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday in response to the June 2015 report of the Law Enforcement Council “Infrastructure combating of corruption in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.”
The Council and other involved parties found that it is hard to acquire a solid and objective view of the size of possible corruption on the three islands which became part of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010. The lack of objective, factual information plays a major role in this.
“The small size of society and the closed-knit community as a result of this makes it often difficult to draw the line between accepted business relations and unaccepted exchange relations. The Council and the Caribbean Netherlands Public Prosecutor’s Office also conclude that some accusations are politically motivated. That makes it difficult for the Prosecutor’s Office and the National Detectives to proceed to criminal investigation and prosecution,” Van der Steur stated.
“That doesn’t take away the fact that every form of corruption needs to be tackled. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, as the one responsible for the investigation and prosecution, has to be the spider in the web and fulfill an active role. A solid information position is of crucial importance in this,” the Minister stated.
The Law Enforcement Council also advised the introduction of the so-called BIBOB Law in the Caribbean Netherlands. This law makes it possible for government to check the integrity of companies and private persons requesting a permit or subsidy, and the right to reject that request in case of integrity violations.
However, Van der Steur doubts whether a BIBOB Law for the islands would make a difference in the promotion of integrity and good governance. He stated that a government entity that pays no heed to corruptive handlings and carries out a poor investigation or none at all can also do so under the BIBOB Law.
The Council’s report showed that there are big differences between Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba where it comes to integrity policies. The situation in Saba was deemed positive. “The investments in good governance (procedures, decision-taking) are showing results.”
As to St. Eustatius, the Council expressed concerns about the mutual dependence due to the intensive family relations. According to the Council, the influence of politics and the government administration is big.
In Bonaire conflict of interest situations between private, public and political interests didn’t seem to be an exception, the Council concluded. The checks and balances are impeded by the conflict of interest between the civil service apparatus, the Island Council and the Executive Council. The Island and Executive Council appeared insufficiently aware of the urgency to promote integrity.
Van der Steur stated that he welcomed the recommendation to further develop the integrity policies in the Caribbean Netherlands in order to turn the infrastructure to combat corruption into an effective and powerful instrument. This fit in the efforts of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK to strengthen good governance on the islands.
The Minister agreed with the Law Enforcement Council to have the National Government Representative (Rijksvertegenwoordiger) monitor the further developing and implementation of integrity policies. He remarked that the Representative already has supervisory tasks based on the Caribbean Netherlands Public Entities Law WolBES.
The Daily Herald.