The “equal treatment legislation” in the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands is underway

Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Hugo de Jonge calls it “high time” that equal treatment legislation also applies to Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba.

Care taker minister Hugo de Jonge

Today, on the proposal of De Jonge of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Council of Ministers agreed to send the “equal treatment legislation” in the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands to the Second Chamber. This means that residents of Bonaire, Statia and Saba can invoke these laws if they feel discriminated against. The legislation currently only applies in the European part of the Netherlands.

De Jonge: “It’s high time we took this important step, equal treatment is a fundamental right. Art. 1 applies to the whole of the Netherlands, including the Caribbean parts. In this way, we ensure that everyone on Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba is also protected against discrimination.”

State Secretary Van Huffelen: “Last year, the Executive Councils explicitly asked me to implement this legislation as quickly as possible. The Thode Committee, which has explored what is needed to introduce this legislation on Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba, has had in-depth discussions on the islands about the fundamental right to equal treatment. It is very important to me that the public entities were closely involved in this exploration.”

As a result of this proposal, residents of the BES islands who feel discriminated against on any grounds (gender, age, origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.) can invoke the anti-discrimination provisions. They can also report to a new anti-discrimination facility BES and ask for free help and advice. To this end, each island will have a one-stop shop where broader legal questions will also be addressed. Finally, they can go to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights for a judgment in their case.

Follow-up process

Citizens, businesses and civil society organizations have previously been able to give their views on the proposal through internet consultation. That input was processed and the amended proposal was sent to the Council of State for advice, which issued a positive recommendation. The government is now sending the bill to the Second Chamber. The bill is scheduled to enter into force in 2025.


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