Dutch Sint Maarten Tier 1 in Human Trafficking to legalize prostitution. SXM continue record as sleaziest island in the Caribbean
PHILIPSBURG–Exotic dancers desirous of operating at adult entertainment clubs in St. Maarten will no longer be issued with residence and employment permits to ply their trade in the country. The dancers will instead have to apply for an independent entrepreneurship licence to legally work in St. Maarten.
He explained that dancers (entrepreneurs) will have to file for an independent entrepreneur licence from the Department of Economic Affairs. The entrepreneur dancers will then be able to “establish their business” with adult entertainment clubs operating in the country, by “making an agreement” with them or with anyone else.
Gibson made clear that this new procedure is a permanent one that will be put in place for the country. He said the specific “methods” are now being worked out to further come to “a better regulated way of having the industry operate different from how it operated before.”
Labour Minister Emil Lee confirmed that based on his talks in the Council of Ministers, and based on the ruling in the Casablanca case, the Ministry is not to issue any more permits for exotic dancers.
PHILIPSBURG–Attorney at law Cor Merx says while adult entertainment centres are “happy” that authorities have made changes for exotic dancers operating in the country, the changes do not protect the dancers, who they believe are still exposed to exploitation from “pimps.”
Merx described the changes as cosmetic. “Nothing will be solved (as it relates to) violation of the law. It’s a cosmetic change. Look around in Europe, Curaçao and St. Eustatius, what is happening with the girls over there? The only thing that is solved is that government is not involved as a co-suspect. Most of the cases at the Supreme Court come from the Netherlands where girls are squeezed or exploited. Not only the girls, but also the Chinese people and the Poland people who (go) to work in the asparagus fields,” Merx said.
Gibson had said in assessing the policy that has to be applied, the court has indicated that based on international law, government can be held as a “conspirator in committing a crime” as far as human slavery is concerned under the current policy. Based on this decision, Gibson said he “automatically and immediately” issued an instruction to the relevant department to not issue any more residence permits to exotic dancers on the request of Clubs.
Merx said the changes that government is making have existed in the Netherlands for many years. The Caribbean Netherlands, he added, has already adopted the policy, as did Curaçao, where exotic dancers work as independent entrepreneurs.
“The club owners (in St. Maarten) have been asking for the same policy, for years already, but (former Labour Minister Cornelius) de Weever and (former labour official) Rafael Boasman withheld it and came just before the (August 2014) elections with the sex workers policy. All kind of meetings were planned to give information to the owners and the girls while we in the meantime requested one policy in the Kingdom,” Merx explained.
He said too that government’s decision was not based on the Casa Blanca case, as a verdict in this case is still pending, but rather on statements made by lawyers in the Bada Bing case that government was conspiring in committing a crime as it relates to exotic dancers.
Merx said these comments were always ignored, “and all of a sudden we hear it out of the mouth of an Interim Justice Minister… better late than never… but for some people it is too late. It is a good thing for all of us. Every club owner wants to fight human smuggling and every Minister and Prosecutor wants the same, but everyone seems to have their own agenda. For sure we had at least five meetings with Drs. Ligia Stella and Mr. Muller on behalf of several Ministers of Justice; but to no avail. Now it comes over us as a meteor.”
Merx said the industry needs to be upgraded “in a professional way” and not by “changing some rules. Because you go from the rain to the drip and the victims are the people who are exploited, not Government.”
“None of the clubs are willing or have the intention to abuse them (dancers). They are free to make a lot of money and go where they want to go. The difference now is the Tax Department and SZV (Social and Health Care Insurance) will be involved for collecting taxes (income and social insurance).”