State secretary agrees human rights treaties should also apply to islands

Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations and Digitisa­tion Alexandra van Huffe­len shares the view of the Netherlands Human Rights Council that the differences in the protection of human rights between the Neth­erlands and the Caribbean Netherlands must be elimi­nated as much as possible. The state secretary wrote this on Tuesday in her re­ply to a March 14 letter of the Human Rights Council. The latter voiced its con­cerns about the protection of human rights in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the fact that a number of important international hu­man rights conventions are (still) not applicable to the islands, while equal treat­ment legislation is not in effect either.

The Council said it was content with the moves of the Dutch government to implement the Istanbul Convention to combat vio­lence against women in the Caribbean Netherlands. At the same time, the Council pointed out that other hu­man rights conventions still had to be implemented, in­cluding the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Dis­abilities and the UN Con­vention against Torture.

The Council pointed out that citizens in the Nether­lands, and that includes the Caribbean Netherlands, have a right to a similar protection of human rights, despite their residency area. “Therefore, it is of great importance that the Dutch government at once eliminates the formal, fac­tual difference in human rights protection between the Caribbean Netherlands and the Netherlands.”

Advisory Council for In­ternational Issues AIV in the Netherlands in 2018 advised that the deviating regime between the Neth­erlands and the Caribbean Netherlands with regard to human rights needed to be eliminated. The Human Rights Council agrees with AIV.

According to both AIV and the Human Rights Council, the limited government capacity in the Caribbean part of the kingdom should not be a reason not to im­plement human rights con­ventions for the islands. “To the contrary; this should be an additional stimulant for the government to further intensify the collaboration and support from the Neth­erlands in this area,” stated the Human Rights Council.

In her letter to the Hu­man Rights Council, State Secretary Van Huffelen explained that the Dutch ministries and the public entities Bonaire, St. Eusta­tius and Saba were working towards the enforcement of the Istanbul Convention. Where it concerns the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabili­ties, it has been decided to implement this through a more individual approach. The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS has allocated funding to the public entities to ex­ecute projects in this area.

The public entities have been busy adapting houses of persons with disabilities and making public areas more accessible. Also, the Dutch government has been financing projects to build homes and facilities for persons with disabili­ties, and funding has been allocated to prepare facili­ties in education and day care for children with extra care or support needs.

The state secretary prom­ised to look at the possibili­ties to speed up the imple­mentation of the human rights conventions for the Caribbean Netherlands.
She pledged that the inven­tory of what is needed to implement equal treatment legislation for the Carib­bean Netherlands, a matter that has been pending since 2020, will be concluded this year.

The Daily Herald.

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