Category Archives: Government

Controlling preventing arboviral circulation

http://thedailyherald.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44683:controlling-preventing-arboviral-circulation-&catid=9:letters-to-the-editor&Itemid=18

Dear Editor,

Last week the Daily Herald reported that two cases of chikungunya virus CHIKV were laboratory confirmed on St. Martin. The article stated that CHIKV is in the Pacific Islands, Asia and India, but until now not in the Caribbean islands. While it is true that these are the first laboratory confirmed cases of CHIKV in the Caribbean, it is highly probable that the virus has been circulating in the Caribbean for some time. Not documenting the virus sooner probably results from a failure to invest in public health research and infrastructure.

CHIKV is similar to dengue virus DENV in that it is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Like DENV, CHIKV is what is called an ARBO virus. ARBO viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of blood sucking vectors such as mosquitoes and other biting flies or ticks. There are over 400 types of ARBO viruses (although all are not a threat to humans). While every year each country is supposed to report prevalence, incidence, morbidity and mortality data to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the difficulty surrounding ARBO viral diagnosis causes many potential problems when data is compiled in each respective country.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there is a great deal of variability in the clinical illness associated with ARBO viral infections, and it is not appropriate to adopt a detailed definition of what constitutes a definite diagnosis. Laboratory confirmation is emphasised. Additionally, many clinical signs can result in differential diagnoses as it is difficult to distinguish many ARBO viral infections clinically from each other and a wide spectrum of other bacterial and parasitic infections.

There are also no single, simple diagnostic criteria available. In a laboratory, ARBO viruses are diagnosed by isolation of the virus, by serology or by molecular diagnostic methods. However, tests requiring the identification of the virus or the viral genome are expensive and require specialised laboratories. While, there are some commercial kits available for diagnosis many concerns surround their validity resulting from inadequate sensitivity and specificity. Simply stated, often times, the results of these tests result in missed diagnosis.

In 2000, the 42nd Directing Council of PAHO adopted resolution CD42.R14 urging countries to participate in the regional exercise to measure performance with respect to 11 defined Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF). This exercise would allow countries to carry out interventions to develop their capacity and improve public health practice. In the sub-region of the English-speaking Caribbean and Antilles, countries exhibited low-intermediate performances in nearly all of the essential public health functions with only one function, reducing the impact of emergencies and disasters in health perform adequately (EPHF 11). The lowest performance was exhibited in the areas of public health research and quality assurance (EPHF 9, EPHF 10).

Despite the growing threat from emerging/re-emerging ARBO viruses, 14 years after the PAHO resolution, very few laboratories in the region have capabilities for diagnosing highly infectious diseases such as viral haemorrhagic fever, severe acute respiratory syndrome, etc. Countries often ship specimens to other regions for confirmation resulting in delayed responses to outbreaks. Laboratory-based surveillance would play a significant role in timely outbreak response and the regular analysis of laboratory data would allow for the prediction of circulating disease characteristics for citizens and the region.

In the Caribbean region the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS (reproductive health) is a priority area for infectious disease funding. HIV/AIDS is an important concern as the Caribbean region is the second most affected region in the world in terms of HIV prevalence rates. Based on 2009 data, about 1.0 per cent of the adult population (240,000 people) is living with the disease.

However, due to the nature of how ARBO viral diseases are spread (a bug bite), it is critical that an investment be made in public health infrastructure and research so that evidenced based ARBO viral control and prevention can become priority areas.

This effort must not be left to single islands but rather one of the entire Caribbean community. It is my suspicion that many ARBO viruses have been circulating and continue to actively circulate in the Caribbean. It is now time to come together as a Caribbean community and work towards prevention and control. This can be accomplished through investments in public health research laboratory capacity, improvements in communication networks and increased data sharing.

Dr. Teresa E. Leslie

President and Founder

Eastern Caribbean Public Health Foundation, St. Eustatius.

Apartheid op afstand

Uitleg over APARTHEID OP AFSTAND door Michiel Bijkerk

Art 1 lid 2 Statuut (dus de wet vanaf 10-10-10) maakt dat BES geen gelijke mensenrechten (waaronder sociale en economische rechten) hebben gekregen. Dus geen kinderbijslag (terwijl de Bonaireaanse kinderen dat vaak zeer nodig hebben, in ieder geval niet minder nodig dan Nederlandse kinderen), geen AOV op gelijke voet met Nederland (zelfs niet op niveau van het minimumbestaan), geen WAO, geen ambtenarensalarissen op vergelijkbaar niveau als in Nederland, geen onderstand op Nederlands niveau EN OOK GEEN UITZICHT daarop. Dit alles als gevolg van een wettelijke bepaling (art. 1 lid 2 Statuut).

Alles kan en moet soms anders geregeld worden in BES als in Nederland, BEHALVE MENSENRECHTEN. Het is goed dat er gedifferentieerd kan worden tussen Nederland en BES (op basis van hetzelfde Statuutartikel), maar NIET wat betreft mensenrechten. Er is onmiskenbaar een grote ONGELIJKHEID op het gebied van Mensenrechten tussen Nederland en BES. Dat is een vorm van apartheid, aangezien dit bij wet geregeld is.

En dhr. STOLTE wist dit van tevoren BEWUST. Hij was aanwezig tijdens een Manifestatie in 2008 op het Wilhelminaplein waar wij (toen nog geen PHU) dit alles – met gebruikmaking van het woord ‘apartheid’ – hebben uitgelegd. Maar noch Stolte, noch Nederlandse politici (zoals Bijleveld), noch de UPB wilden luisteren. Wij nemen dit de UPB evenveel kwalijk als Nederland.

Er zijn 250 jaar verlopen sinds de introductie van democratie en mensenrechten, waaronder het GELIJKHEIDSBEGINSEL. Nederland had zelf in moeten zien dat apartheid in de 21ste eeuw echt niet kan. Maar er is sinds de jaren 90 in Nederland een soort blindheid in het bewustzijn gekropen die ertoe heeft geleid dat Nederland (SAMEN MET DE UPB) het toch nog een keer hebben geprobeerd.

Dat is volstrekt onjuist. Onzinnig zelfs. Daarom zal de PHU nooit ophouden te hameren op gelijke MENSENRECHTEN en DEMOCRATIE. Artikel 1 van de Grondwet (die nu ook de Grondwet van BES is) legt het gelijkheidsbeginsel vast. Daar moet Nederland zich op baseren en het probleem met BES wordt opgelost. Dan duurt het nog 25 jaar voordat de verzoening compleet is. Maar op basis van wettelijke discriminatie (apartheid dus) is verzoening niet mogelijk. En terecht niet.

Het kan eenvoudig worden opgelost. Een PROTOCOL kan worden getekend tussen BES en Nederland, waarin een vaste interpretatie van art. 1 lid 2 Statuut wordt overeengekomen. In dat PROTOCOL wordt duidelijk gemaakt dat dit ‘differentiatieartikel’ NIET bedoeld is om te differentieren op het gebied van Mensenrechten, inclusief sociale en economsiche mensenrechten. Dat betekent meteen dat deze rechten gelijk moeten worden getrokken. Hoe dat moet gebeuren en hoe snel, is dan een kwestie van organiseren en onderhandelen. Makkelijk zal het niet worden. Maar vergeet niet. Duitsland trok in één klap alle mensenrechten gelijk tussen West- en Oost-Duitsland op datum van re-unificatie. En dat was veel moeilijker dan het gelijktrekken van de mensenrechten tussen Nederland en BES.

‘Plasterks mantel der liefde zorgt niet voor beeld dat politicus een eerzaam beroep is’

Gekopieerd van de Volkrant website 6 dec Op de foto Wilbert Stolte, de in opspraak geraakte Rijksvertegenwoordiger BES eilanden.

COLUMN Het is niet meer van deze tijd om zaken over politici waar op z’n minst de geur van corruptie om heen hangt binnenskamers af te handelen, schrijft columnist Meindert Fennema.

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Murk Schaafsma (1883-1955) was aan het begin van de vorige eeuw ‘assistent bij de posterijen’ in Leeuwarden. Dat was hoger dan postbesteller, maar erg hoog kan het ook weer niet geweest zijn, want hij werd lid van de SDAP, de voorloper van de PvdA. Murk had ambitie en talent; hij maakte carrière bij de posterijen en In 1915 werd hij lid van de gemeenteraad. Daar bleef het niet bij, want in 1919 werd hij wethouder. De ondernemende wethouder reisde veel naar Duitsland. Of dat in het kader was van de internationale solidariteit weten wij niet, maar wel zijn de declaraties bewaard gebleven van hotelrekeningen in Berlijn Keulen en Frankfurt.

Sommige hotelrekeningen kwamen over de 300 gulden. Omgerekend is dat een bedrag van 1600 euro. Vergeleken met de dienstreizen van Bram Peper valt dat nog mee, maar in Leeuwarden was men dat destijds niet gewend. ‘De gemeentelijke boekhouders kregen er rode oortjes van’ schrijft Jaap Hellinga in de Leeuwarder Courant van 18 mei 2001.

Voor Schaafsma viel het doek in 1921, toen bleek dat hij als privépersoon een polder had gekocht die vervolgens in gebruik genomen werd als vuilstortplaats voor Leeuwarden.

Niets nieuws onder de zon zou men, denkend aan Ton Hooijmaijers, zeggen. Maar er is één groot verschil.

Geheime notulen
De zaak Schaafsma werd in 1921 door de Burgemeester van Leeuwarden, J.M. van Beyma, in een geheime raadsvergadering afgehandeld en zou nooit naar buiten gekomen zijn als één van de raadsleden de Leeuwarder Courant geen inzage had verschaft in de geheime notulen van de raadsvergadering. De burgemeester eiste van alle 25 raadsleden een verklaring dat zij niet hadden gelekt. De liberaal A. de Vos weigerde dat, tot woedde van de burgemeester.

De Vos zou in 1923 niet terugkeren in de raad van Leeuwarden. Het is nu ondenkbaar dat zo’n zaak de kop zou kosten van de klokkenluider, als zijn er genoeg voorbeelden bekend dat de politieke erfgenamen van een man als De Vos in hun politieke carrière nog steeds tegengewerkt worden. Maar zo opvallend als dat in 1921 gedaan werd, dat kan niet meer.

Of niet?

De laatste loot aan de stam van reislustige wethouders is de oud-wethouder uit Den Haag, Wilbert Stolte. In de NRC van afgelopen zaterdag wordt verslaggedaan van zijn reizen naar Bonaire, waar hij aanzienlijk meer aan uitgeeft dan zijn illustere voorganger Murk Schaafsma deed in Duitsland. Maar ook Wilbert Stolte struikelde uiteindelijk: niet over een vuilnisstort, maar over een penthouse, dat hij aanvankelijk huurde op kosten van BZK maar dat hij besloot het te kopen, samen met zijn maatje Hans Hillen, die zich op Bonaire flink laat betalen voor lobbywerk in Den Haag, ten behoeve van het bestuurscollege. Zo wordt hij twee keer betaald: één keer als senator om besluiten te nemen en één keer als adviseur van het bestuurscollege om voor Bonaire de juiste besluiten te nemen.

Stolte en Hillen worden op de Antillen knabbel en babbel genoemd. Zij kochten het penthouse in 2007 van een vriend en zakenman op Bonaire, Ed de Vuijst. De Vuijst zelf huurt al sinds jaar en dag een klein landhuis aan zee van het bestuurscollege op Bonaire. Voor 60 euro per maand. Dat ‘unique Carribean style house with private beach’ (NRC 30-11-2013) verhuurt hij op zijn buurt aan toeristen voor 2000 euro per week. Van dat geld stort hij zo nu en dan wat in de verkiezingskas van de regerende Union Patriotiko Boneriano (UPB) om te zorgen dan zijn huisbaas de baas blijft op Bonaire. Politici van het CDA maken graag  en gratis gebruik van het penthouse van Hillen en Stolte. De leider van het CDA was er afgelopen jaarwisseling.

Stolte declareerde in 2006 een aantal dagen waarop hij in zijn Penthouse werkte zowel in Den Haag als in Bonaire. Ook op andere punten moest Den Haag zijn declaraties ‘corrigeren’. Hij reisde 17 keer naar Bonaire voor werkzaamheden ten behoeve van een commissie, waarvan het Curacaose lid één reis nodig had.

Aftreden
Stolte treedt nu ‘op eigen verzoek’ al volgend jaar mei af als Rijksvertegenwoordiger, drie jaar eerder dan de bedoeling was. Minister Plasterk doet er verder het zwijgen toe, hij ‘twijfelt niet aan de integriteit van Stolte.’ Het lijkt erop dat Plasterk, net als destijds de burgemeester van Leeuwarden, de zaak graag binnenskamers afhandelt. Maar dat kan niet meer in een tijd waarin de media hun controlerende taak veel serieuzer opvatten dan destijds. Was Plasterk ook niet de minister die in de Volkskrant verklaarde dat de burgers er weer van overtuigd moeten worden dat het beroep van politicus een eerzaam beroep is? Plasterks mantel der liefde draagt daar niet toe bij.

Meindert Fennema is emeritus hoogleraar en columnist voor Volkskrant.nl. Onlangs verscheen zijn eerste roman Het slachthuis.

link: http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/11204/Meindert-Fennema/article/detail/3557028/2013/12/06/Plasterks-mantel-der-liefde-zorgt-niet-voor-beeld-dat-politicus-een-eerzaam-beroep-is.dhtml#.UqGC7mkGE9Y.facebook

Column: Schoonmakers behalen erkend vakdiploma

Ik kreeg een foto toegestuurd met een groepje lokale Bonaireanen erop die met hun best wel grote erkende vakdiploma’s stonden te zwaaien. Het was al donker, het was waarschijnlijk op een feestje uitgereikt. Super. Waarschijnlijk gedaan met geld van SZW.

Bij ons op St. Eustatius was er de lokale beslissing genomen om mensen die voor de overheid werken in een soort “verborgen werkloosheid banen”, op te leiden of om te scholen. Ik weet niet of dat met geld van SZW gedaan zou worden en ik weet niet of er een “Stichting” tussen zit. Meestal als er tussen geld van Nederland en lokale beslissingen een “Stichting” zit, gaat het mis. Dan worden beloofde stappen niet genomen, dat zijn er bepaalde vrienden van politici die erin zitten en een clan achter zich hebben die ze moeten bedienen.

Op Statia probeert Mevrille Hazel “tweedekansers” te interesseren om in de landbouw te werken. Toen Willem en Maxima er waren, kwam er een leerling opdagen: een vrouw, met haar dochtertje. Misschien waren het twee dochtertjes. Zoals ze zat te wachten tot ze aan kwamen, met haar kind of haar kindertjes om zich heen, was een romantisch plaatje. Deze vrouw moet gekoesterd worden, ze verdient het om goed te worden in een vak. Veel mensen zijn ongemotiveerd omdat hun arbeidsomgeving niet stimulerend is. Als er techniek aan te pas zou komen en wat moeilijkere dingen, wat innovaties, wat energie, wat creativiteit, dan zou het werken op Statia als laaggeschoolde veel interessanter worden.

“De mensen op Statia hebben potentie,” zeggen ze dan. Maar niemand probeert die potentie eruit te halen en niemand weet eigenlijk te zeggen trouwens, wat die potentie dan is.  Ik weet het wel: de potentie is dat de mensen creatief zijn. Ze kunnen met weinig slimme oplossingen bedenken voor ingewikkelde problemen.

Ik weet zeker dat als op Statia de landbouw gaat innoveren, vertical agriculture, bakken met tilapia en dan groentes erboven op verbouwen, er vooruitgang komt.

Je kunt groente en fruit exporteren naar de tophotels op St. Maarten en St. Barths en St. Kitts/Nevis en Saba.

Weet je wat de Sabanen deden toen Statia “The Golden Rock” was? Ze deden de landbouw voor ze. Ze voeren hun groente en fruit uit naar Statia. Vandaar dat er nog zoveel gebied is op Saba dat een plantage is geweest. Ik denk dat het nu voor Statia de beurt is om het “groente en fruit eiland” van de regio te worden.

Ik zei creativiteit en ik had het over landbouw en landbouw innovatie. Ik geloof dat als de Statianen gaan innoveren, er ook gekeken moet worden naar de creatieve oplossingen uit het verleden. De putten die er waren, de oplossingen voor erosie werkten. Innovatie bevordert  creativiteit als mensen erin betrokken worden, weten waarmee ze bezig zijn, mee nadenken.

Verder zijn er heel veel mensen die ander creatief talent kunnen ontwikkelen.  Veel meer mensen zouden kunnen schilderen. Niet alleen kleuren verzinnen voor je huis, maar ook kunstzinnig schilderen. Er zijn ook veel mensen op te leiden als timmerman, daar zijn ook in het verleden creatieve ideeen bedacht, zoals die van een Duitse meneer die een soort voorloper van “Zagen en Schaven” had opgezet bij Rosemary Lane ergens.

Schilderen en hout bewerken, ook daar kunnen vrouwen goed in worden. Er kunnen goede opleidingen begonnen worden, die niet alleen voor de regio, maar ook voor in Holland uniek zijn.

Landbouw, (kunst) schilderen en houtbewerken. Ander creatief talent zit in de muziek, daar staat Statia om bekend, een echte muziekopleiding op het eiland zou wonderen kunnen verrichten.

Annemiek

 

 

 

 

 

Appointment procedure for “Rijksvertegenwoordiger” has to change according to D’66

(picture NRC) In this article the D’66 opinion about the appointment procedure of the “Rijksvertegenwoordiger” and that that has to change.

http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/11/27/benoemingsprocedure-rijksvertegenwoordiger-antillen-nu-te-schimmig/?fb_action_ids=10200213360297152&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B414840835310241%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.recommends%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

28 nov written answer from Plasterk:

Kamerlid: Hachchi (D66)

Vraag:

Kunt u de benoeming van de Rijksvertegenwoordiger stroomlijnen met die van een commissaris van de Koning?

Antwoord:

Er bestaan grote verschillen in de rol en positie van de commissaris van de Koning en de Rijksvertegenwoordiger, welke mede tot uitdrukking komen in de benoemingsprocedure.

De benoeming van de Rijksvertegenwoordiger is vastgelegd in art 188 Wolbes. De minister van BZK stelt een profielschets vast, waarna de vacature wordt geplaatst in de Staatscourant. Voordat de minister de voordracht tot benoeming doet, wint hij over de voor te dragen persoon het gevoelen in van de bestuurscolleges van de openbare lichamen, dit om het draagvlak voor het functioneren van betrokkene in de praktijk te toetsen. Aangezien de Rijksvertegenwoordiger geen deel uitmaakt van het eilandsbestuur en daar dus ook geen verantwoordingsrelatie mee heeft is er geen sprake van een vertrouwenscommissie, uit respectievelijk aanbeveling van de eilandsraad.

Zoals bekend legt de huidige Rijksvertegenwoordiger per 1 mei 2014 zijn functie neer. Ik zal derhalve voor zijn opvolging een profielschets vaststellen. Dit past in de huidige acties voor de verbeteren van de Rijkscoördinatie.

UPC pleads for action plan during constitutional debate

Published in Daily Herald May 18

ST. EUSTATIUS–The current constitutional status of St. Eustatius of a public entity of The Netherlands was discussed during a town
hall meeting at Lions Den on Tuesday.
A large cross-section of the island community attended the meeting, which was organized by the Executive Council.
Part-time lecturer of University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) Arjan van Rijn was the keynote speaker, whereas all parties
represented in the Island Council made their positions known on Statia’s current status and the upcoming evaluation, scheduled
for 2015.
Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Koos Sneek, representatives of the Democratic Party (DP)/Lijfrock coalition, as well as
leaders of the opposition parties United People’s Coalition (UPC) and St. Eustatius Empowerment Party (STEP) participated in a
panel discussion. Persons in attendance were also able to voice their opinion and ask questions.
UPC-leader Zaandam said that in the decolonizing process, the colonial power has the duty and responsibility to make time, manpower and finances available to educate the people about the pros and cons of constitutional choices.
According to him, it was the responsibility of The Netherlands to explain to the people what full integration meant.
“The majority of the people have little or no understanding of even the most fundamental elements of a constitutional process. In
that regard, Holland failed the people of Statia miserably,” said Zaandam.He also answered to allegations that UPC would be against the current status, and would be manipulating voters to demand a constitutional referendum.“That is utter nonsense, because there is no need for us to do that. The people are wiser and will not allow themselves to be misled, manipulated or shouted down,” said Zaandam.
The UPC-leader said inequality was the biggest problem of the current status.“Testament to that is that Holland makes provisions
available to the people, and just when the people get accustomed to these, Holland unilaterally decides to trim down these services and or halt them completely.” Another problem is that Statians are not represented in the Dutch parliament. “Without representation
how can you, as a people, have check and balances on those deciding for you?” Zaandam asked. UPC wants to ensure that the people of Statia choose their destiny, and not the Executive Council or the Dutch parliament. Zaandam also pointed out that according to a resolution of the United Nations  General Assembly, territories should be free to  choose their constitutional future.
He disagreed with the Executive Council, which is of the opinion that the danger of anchoring the current constitutional status in the
Constitution no longer exists, because of the position of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. Zaandam, however, strongly believes that the VVD/PvdA coalition will find ways to obtain a majority in the Senate to finalize the anchoring of the special-entity status in the Constitution.
According to the UPCleader, the constitutional evaluation should be based on a Constitutional Action Plan. “In this action plan, Statia and the people’s interest must at all times be the point of departure. Not the BES (special entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – Ed.) utopia, and surely not the interest of Holland,” Zaandam stated. The action plan should consist of a timeline during which the evaluation must be finalized, and should include the adoption of a Referendum Ordinance, consultation and information of the people and the acquisition of services from an experienced constitutional professional.“All of us, including Holland, must work to ensure
that there is a procedure in place that is transparent from the beginning, that will not be changed arbitrarily and that puts the final decision in the hands of the people,” Zaandam said.

According to him, it would be pointless to go through a lengthy period of information gathering and debate if the people were to be
denied their right to decide their future. Concerning a referendum, Zaandam said that contrary to other parties, UPC has the strong conviction that consultation of the people of Statia on the current status should be at the basis of the constitutional evaluation process.”What sense does it make to evaluate a status that is not properly defined? This status is not that of a borough, not part of a
municipality or a province. Because of the fact that our status is neither one thing nor the other, Statia is in a situation in which
we are compelled to constantly seek conference with Holland to talk about provisions and finances that would have been normal
if the status was properly and well-defined within the Dutch governmental structure…Consulting the people is a must, not a luxury or
a privilege granted by the Executive Council or Holland, but a right founded on international treaties.

Declaration of the rights of the child

Today the results of the UNICEF childrens’ survey will be presented in Leiden.

Samenvatting Kind op BES LOWRES

It is concluded that the situation of the children on the BES islands do not meet with the standards as defined in the Declaration of the rights of the child.

Here you can read what this declaration enhances.

DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959
   WHEREAS the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
   WHEREAS the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
   WHEREAS the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,
   WHEREAS the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children,
   WHEREAS mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,
   Now, therefore,  Proclaims
THIS DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:
1   The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
2   The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
3   The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
4   The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
5   The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.
6   The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
7   The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.
The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.
The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.
8   The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
9   The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.
10   The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.

Townhall meeting about Status

Professor Van Rijn urges Statians to think twice about different status

By on May 22, 2013

St. Eustatius should think twice before changing its constitutional status, said Professor Arjen van Rijn of University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) during a town hall meeting on constitutional affairs at Ernest van Putten Youth Centre on May 14. The meeting was organised by the Island Government to talk with the community about constitutional developments since the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10, 2010, after which Statia became a special public entity of The Netherlands. The negative aspects and how these are addressed, as well as the positive aspects of the new status were highlighted, while attention was also given to the various services which have been transferred to the Dutch government and the efficiency thereof.

A large crowd had turned out for the evening, which also comprised a panel discussion with participation of Island Governor Gerald Berkel, Commissioner Koos Sneek, Island Council Members Reuben Merkman (Democratic Party, DP), Millicent Lijfrock-Marsdin (independent) Reginald Zaandam (United People’s Coalition, UPC) and Franklin Brown (St. Eustatius Empowerment Party, STEP) and Professor Van Rijn.

Van Rijn said the issue at hand was of great importance for the present and future development of the island. He predicted that the audience would not always be happy with his opinions as a constitutional professional. He started with a historic overview, stating that Statia had come in a difficult situation after 76.6 per cent of the people voted for becoming part of a restructured Netherlands Antilles in the April 2005 referendum. However, none of the other islands wanted to stay aboard the Netherlands Antilles. In the end, the Island Council acknowledged the outcome of the referendums on the other islands and declared its willingness to reach a mutual agreement, which led to Bonaire, Statia and Saba being integrated into The Netherlands as public entities. The current status will be evaluated in 2015, which may result in an adaptation of the status, if there are reasons to do so.

Self-determination

So far, so good, said Van Rijn, but how about the island’s right to self-determination? UN-Resolution 1514 and both UN Human Rights Treaties state that: “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” There are several ways to reach paradise, Van Rijn pointed out but self-determination is not restricted to the option of independence. “Any status is acceptable, as long as exercising an option is the result of free choice. This is an essential element in the UN doctrine and in the legal discussions.” “The UN has explicitly recognised a referendum as one of the means of achieving self-determination; but, a referendum is not obligatory. Also other democratic means can be valid,” he said. “Important is also that the right of self-determination is a unilateral right, only to be exercised by the former colonial entity and not by the former mother country,” according to Van Rijn. Despite the question whether the referendum on Statia was a suitable instrument to reflect the will of the people in 2005, the outcome was ignored by the people’s representatives, researchers stated in a study published in 2011. They said it was highly doubtful that the decision of the representatives can be qualified as being in compliance with the principles of free choice. “At this point, it cannot be concluded that the people of Statia have freely determined their status,” Van Rijn said. Zaandam came to the same conclusion in a meeting in April 2010 in the Second Chamber. He requested a referendum to be held before 10-10-10. “Popular unrest did not occur and, therefore, it might have been argued that the representatives had acted in conformity with the wishes of the population. However, the recent turmoil on the direct effects of the integration, inter alia, the imposition of controversial legislation regarding abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, reveals the deficit in the integration process of the BES islands,” Van Rijn contested. Van Rijn also thinks it would have been better if the results of the negotiations with The Netherlands about the new status would have been put to a final referendum before 10-10-10, but did Statia have a real alternative at that time? “Every outcome would have been second best, because continuation of the Netherlands Antilles was not possible anymore,” he said.

Autonomy

An autonomous status for Statia would theoretically have been feasible and possible, and still is, but Van Rijn cautioned about this alternative. “Even for St. Maarten this is difficult enough. Autonomy means that you can decide about your own money. But, it also means that you basically have to earn your own money. At the moment the expenditures of the three BES islands on health care are US $90 million, only $30 million of which are paid for by the citizens of the BES themselves.” Independence is also possible, but would take the island away from the protective shield of the Kingdom and would take Dutch citizenship and passports away. Finally, is the present status really very different from the status Statia opted for? Van Rijn wondered. “The big difference now is that the central level is not based in Willemstad but in The Hague…It is true: The Hague has more power and competences than Willemstad. It is also true that Statia would have had more influence on the central level as one of the five Island Territories of The Netherlands Antilles than nowadays as only one of the 400+ local communities of The Netherlands. But, it is also true that the central level is functioning much smoother and better then The Netherlands- Antillean central level. That means “unfortunately” that you are not only obliged to pay taxes, but that you also have to pay them in fact.”

No eternal thing

Van Rijn said that in terms of self-determination the current status was not a bad choice, although some “major deficits” call for “legal and practical action.” The present status is not a “given and eternal thing,” Van Rijn underlined. “The people have the right to ask for changes if it wants so. But, I also would advise: be realistic. Statia counts 4,000 citizens. In The Netherlands we are more than 16 million… The construction you chose a few years ago offers a lot of advantages. It gives you protection and security. Be proud of it. Don’t throw it away too easily.” The UNA professor advised for the evaluation to be taken seriously and prepared well. It is the chance for you to do proposals for change, if you feel the need. “Your right to self-determination gives you the right to formulate your wishes, and it puts an obligation upon The Netherlands to listen to you and to try to realise these wishes together with you when feasible and realistic.” He pleaded for better communication between the islands and The Hague and for a better level of representation of the islands on a central level, stating that the “democratic deficit of non-representation must be taken away.” He welcomed the suggestion for a special State Secretary for the BESislands within the Dutch government.

Changes and progress

Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Koos Sneek gave a presentation on the developments concerning the constitutional status, including changes and progress made to mould the present status in a way most beneficial to the people. “Even Aruba with a ‘Status Aparte’ since 1986, does not have the level of services we are enjoying in Statia,” Sneek claimed. “Our situation, as a public entity is not equal to that of a municipality in the European part of The Netherlands and, therefore, we can be different. We can have different laws, a different tax system, but also a different social services system. This is also supported in our Constitution where Article 1 states that we are all treated equal in equal circumstances. This means that when the circumstances are not equal one does not need to be treated equal. It is important to emphasize though, that this inequality counts not only for benefits but also for our obligations. This means for instance that our taxes can be less and our health benefits can be more. Which, by the way, is also the case,” Sneek said. In the meantime, the First Chamber has delayed the process in which Statia’s special status will be imbedded in the Constitution. “This will take the pressure of the evaluation period and takes away the impression that already before the completion of the evaluation the decision was made on our final constitutional status,” Sneek said.

Perfect status

“Is this a perfect status? The answer is no. But, is there a perfect status? Also to this question the answer is no. In my humble opinion, for the moment and foreseeable future the status as a public entity is by far the most favourable one within the possibilities for Statia, taking into consideration for instance the size of our island, our population size and geographical situation. “This status guarantees the best possible level of services for our people. It guarantees the best possible safety and security as well as proper and transparent government. Of course we have started our new status with all kind of shortcomings; but, I believe that it is clearly visible that both the central government in The Hague and the island government are making great strides with the improvement of all matters that require improvement,” Commissioner Sneek told the audience As examples of such improvements, Sneek specifically mentioned the tax system, the increase in minimum wage and health care insurance. Sneek stressed that the DP was not against a referendum, but that it was important to await the outcome of the evaluation. “After the evaluation we can then decide to hold a referendum,” he said. DP leader Reuben Merkman stated that the right of self determination cannot be taken away from the people. “This means that we as Island Council should stop fighting one another and put laws in place to guarantee our island and its people are in the best position to make any decision that is needed. By fighting one another the people of Statia are divided by us, the leaders, who should lead and unite them.” Merkman said it was important for people to be educated pertaining to what a referendum entails and which statuses are economically possible. More information sessions will be convened at a later date.

Source: “The Daily Herald” 2013-05-22 vanrijn (35)

Swimming

When I see Statia’s public swimmingpool I always start to dream. Most of the time you see it there, invitingly dark fresh turquois, with the sandstone hot path surrounding it. Pueblo kind of building, cold and fresh inside where the lockers are. Only needs a veranda, a roof outside. It doesn’t work with the few parasols they have there, it needs a structural roofing.

And then I dream of all the swimminglessons that can take place there, year round. All of the school children can swim once a week and get their swimmingdiploma’s. A swimming culture could start, with games and competitions and active participations and organizations of regional and international competitions.

By the way, my guess is 60% of the grown ups can’t swim and with the healthrisks of diabetes getting adult people to come swim and get their diploma’s can be a great opportunity for fun and activities for young and old on the island.

 

O yes, and that building you see there in the background is supposed to be fixed up for groups of overseas children to accomodate them when they are here with their sportsteams.