THE HAGUE – King Willem-Alexander had a meeting with the ombudsmen of Curaçao, St Maarten and the Netherlands. With the Aruban representative, who was sitting right next to the king, shame was especially visible.
Lobbying has been going strong in Aruba for fifteen years, but politics is still not cooperating. Aruba is the only country in the Kingdom where citizens cannot go to an independent institution if they have problems with the government.
“This is embarrassing”
“Frankly? I just think it is outrageous that Aruba does not have an ombudsman, “says Aruban quartermaster Sahaira Kelly. “I didn’t like having to tell this story to the king at all.”
The entire kingdom has signed a document about the establishment of an ombudsman, but Aruba does not realize that. This is also perceived as ’embarrassing’ from an international perspective.
“Arubans do express themselves on social media and on the radio, but there is no specially designated person to stand up for them,” says Kelly.
All eyes on Aruban parliament
King Willem-Alexander heard the quartermaster on Wednesday. All eyes are now on the Aruban parliament, whether the third draft bill will be adopted after about 15 years .
The fact that it takes so long is because Aruban politics are not going ahead with the plans or are constantly coming up with new legislative proposals.
“As soon as you want to be a rule of law or democracy, an ombudsman is part of it,” says the Dutch ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen. “Aruba thinks so too. But they don’t take the final step of adopting that law. “
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Now that King Willem-Alexander is also aware of the Aruban situation, the hope is that things will get going quickly. Otherwise, the next year will be the second time that the ombudsmen consult on that island, without an Aruban ombudsman at the table.
“We have received a document to which the Kingdom is bound: The Venice Principles, ” says Van Zutphen. “It is an important part of the Council of Europe, which states that there must be an ombudsman. The Kingdom has signed that. You can’t get away from it either. “
According to Van Zutphen, the bill should be adopted before 1 January 2020. “The States Chairman was here and he said: it is going to happen. The Aruban prime minister said so too. I now assume that the ombudsman will be here in a few months. “
Half an hour conversation with the king
The ombudsmen say they are ‘happy’ with the conversation with the king, which lasted about half an hour. “It was very striking how well the king is aware of the situation on the islands,” says Van Zupthen.
In addition to the situation in Aruba, the king also discussed poverty, the reconstruction on St Maarten and the Venezuela crisis.
‘A good example of how it can be done’
The ombudsmen say they are satisfied with their ‘close cooperation’ over the past five years. That would have led to better research and pressure on politics.
“You often hear that it is difficult for the islands and the Netherlands to work together within the Dutch kingdom,” says Van Zutphen. “But I think what’s going on in recent years is a good example of how it can be done.”