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Soualiga Newsday Features (3940)

Annual report 2022 Novus populus cogitationes novas (New people, new perspectives)

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba today presented its annual report and annual accounts for 2022 to the public during a press conference.

The theme for this annual report is Novus populus cogitationes novas, in other words: New people, new perspectives. In many ways, 2022 can be seen as a year of recovery, after two years of forced slow down due to the pandemic.

For the Court, this has become visible in the attachment of a number of important files of business operations. For example, a decision has been taken on the redesign of the support services and the employees concerned have been placed in their (new) positions.

Furthermore, there is progress in the field of housing for the Court in Curaçao with the establishment of a project group for the renovation of the City Hall in which the Court also participates. This is a first, important step in the return of justice to the monumental '21 trapi' in the heart of Willemstad.

It also looks at developments in the number of cases that the Court had to deal with, both at first instance on appeal, in 2022. Attention is also paid to high-profile cases at the various branches of the Court.

court of justice group photo

L to R: Nadine Presentacion (controller Gemeenschappelijk Hof van Justitie), Maroeska Scholte (vicepresident vestigingen Curaçao en Bonaire), Sigmar Carmelia (persrechter vestigingen Curaçao en Bonaire, Corine Bensen (waarnemend vestigingsmanager Curaçao)



Strengthened cooperation against poverty on Bonaire and additional measures for Caribbean Netherlands

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - During the jointly organised work conference 'United against poverty' of the Public Entity of Bonaire (OLB) and the Central Government, both parties strengthened cooperation in a declaration of intent with concrete work agreements. Minister Carola Schouten also announced additional steps against poverty. 

The challenges on the islands are great. During the conference, everyone therefore agreed: the focus should shift from combatting poverty to working on welfare and widespread prosperity. Not only income was discussed, but also the steps to be taken to reduce costs and to organise debt relief.

Minister Schouten stressed that schemes should be there for people and not the other way around. And that the challenges ahead are a joint task. Together with Deputy Craane, she asked all parties involved to join hands. Something that the central government and OLB themselves endorsed by signing a final declaration.

Minister Schouten: "The need is high. Unfortunately, we know the harrowing situations of children going to school on an empty stomach. Of people with multiple jobs who still cannot make ends meet. I often say that my ideal is for people to have 'one job'.

“Here, it is that people need to have one job. To really help people, we need to work together. Because the issue does not belong to one individual. We have to take steps together. And that is what we did today. To continue building a dignified existence. That is what I will continue to work for."

Commissioner Jolinda Craane: "Another important pillar in the local approach to poverty is investing in the development and prevention of disadvantages in our children. So that we can be sure they will have equal opportunities later on.

For a sustainable approach to poverty, residents must not just make ends meet, but together we must build a society in which everyone can participate and get the best out of themselves."

The OLB is emphatically taking the lead in local poverty policy and outlined a roadmap to achieve an integrated approach this year to prevent, combat and alleviate poverty. Minister Schouten announced to release EURO 550,000 specifically for this programme.

She also announced to release EURO 100,000 for the start of a pilot enabling tailor-made solutions. The joint commitment is to create equal opportunities and allow everyone to participate in society. At the end of this year, the detailed plans should be confirmed in administrative agreements between OLB and the Central Government.

Extra measures for all islands

Besides the strengthened cooperation, Minister Schouten also announced additional measures for the entire Caribbean Netherlands. The social relief allowance for single persons and the AWW will be increased per the 1st of October 2023 and a second period for the temporary scheme Double Child Benefit Intensive Care will be opened, in anticipation of the introduction of the structural scheme.

The energy allowance for low-income households will be extended for 2023.

Minister Schouten: "I emphasise we are going to establish a social minimum. The Social Minimum Commission Caribbean Netherlands will advise on this later this year, given the current economic times with rising costs. Meanwhile, we are not standing still. We will continue to work for widespread prosperity and equal opportunities. I promise to keep pushing and pulling to get that done and it was beautiful to hear that all parties involved want to continue contributing to that end."


General information session about the Spatial Development Programme CN

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is pleased to announce an information session on the Spatial Development Programme for the Caribbean Netherlands (CN).

This general information session will provide an opportunity to inform the community and stakeholders about the Central Government’s spatial policy, paying particular attention to the implications for spatial planning on Bonaire.

The information session consists of a general presentation on the Spatial Development Programme Caribbean Netherlands, which will take place on the 1st of June between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The presentation will be followed by an informal introductory session, during which interested parties will be able to meet with programme representatives for further questions and additional information.

The introductory session will take place between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and can be attended at any time.

Residents, businesses, local interest groups, public officials and other interested parties are welcome to participate in the presentation or to visit during the kick-off session.

For more information and registration for the general presentation at 2 p.m., please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About the Spatial Development Programme Caribbean Netherlands

The Spatial Development Programme Caribbean Netherlands (ROP CN) is a programme that describes the policy objectives that have consequences for spatial planning on the islands of Caribbean Netherlands.

The programme thus creates important frameworks for the spatial development plans on the islands. The programme focuses on various spatial policy issues, such as population growth, sufficient housing, climate change, and the preservation of cultural and natural values.

The ROP CN provides an overview of government policy and proposes measures to achieve sustainable spatial development. It promotes structured consultation between the public entities and the Central Government and contributes to an integrated policy structure on the islands.

Date:               1st of June 2023

Location:         Captain Don's Habitat, Kaya Gob. N. Debrot 103, Bonaire

Program:         2:00 p.m.- 3:30 p.m.: General presentation Spatial Development Programme

Caribbean Netherlands

3:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.: Informal walk-in session for questions and answers


Minister of Justice Richardson opens Start-Conference on Strengthening Border Control

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Monday May 21, 2023, Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson officially opened the two-day Start Conference “Strengthening Border Control” which was held in the conference room of the Simpson Bay Resort.

The Start Conference marked the official beginning of the implementation of the plan of approach for Sint Maarten aimed at further bolstering the country’s border security.

The current plan of approach is the result of the political agreement reached between Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten, individually with the Netherlands in 2020, which includes long-term financial assistance to the Caribbean countries for measures to be taken to strengthen their border security.

In addition to making structural funds available to the countries for support by the Customs the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, the Netherlands will also make incidental resources available for investments in equipment, personnel and facilities of the border agencies.

In her opening remarks to the attendees of the conference Minister Richardson extended a warm welcome to the Progress Committee that has been assigned to monitor the implementation of the plan of approach. The Progress Committee brings together individuals from Sint Maarten and the Netherlands with diverse backgrounds and expertise in border control, immigration, law enforcement and other related fields.

The Committee consist of members from law enforcement agencies on Sint Maarten which are Customs, Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBPS), the Police Force of Sint Maarten as well as members from law enforcement agencies in the Netherlands which are Customs the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, along with representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Security and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

In addressing the Committee, Minister Richardson emphasized the importance of increasing collaboration between the border agencies to address Sint Maarten’s challenges at the border and expressed the hope that the Progress Committee’s knowledge and expertise will significantly contribute to a comprehensive assessment of the country’s border security challenges and opportunities.

During the first day of the conference the Committee engaged in fruitful discussions with the border agencies, who gave a presentation on the current state of affairs and the progress that was made since Sint Maarten signed its first border protocol with the Netherlands back in 2018.

On the second day of the conference the Committee embarked on a series of site visits to several operations carried out by the border agencies. The purpose of these visits was to directly gather firsthand information regarding the measures that have been implemented and those that are planned, to enhance border security. The site visits culminated with a tour of the Airport Terminal Reconstruction project from which once completed, the border agencies will also operate in the future.


Reminder on Road Closures on Friday Afternoon in Connection with Border Treaty Signing Event

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – On Friday, May 26, 2023, a ceremony will take place at the Belle Plaine/Belvedere Border monument in the afternoon, and it will result in road closures.

The road closure will take place from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. 

Vehicular traffic will be diverted as follows: Belvedere (Mc. Donald’s) Round-a-bout, Bishop Hill, Oyster Pond, Coralita, to French Quarter.

The Ministry of General Affairs apologizes for any inconvenience caused and appreciates the population’s understanding as the nation marks this historic event. 


Up to 100,000 people in NL believe in “evil elite” theory: AIVD

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An estimated 100,000 people in the Netherlands may believe the world is being ruled by an ‘evil elite’ “to some extent”, and the conspiracy theory is currently the most popular one among extremist groups, the AIVD security service says in a new report

The idea that an elite wants world domination and to subordinate, enslave or even kill ordinary people is widespread and therefore potentially a long-term threat to democracy in the Netherlands, the AIVD said. 

This view of the world is factually wrong, the AIVD said, but if a growing group keep repeating it, more people may lose their trust in the institutions on which the rule of law is based, and that will pressure democracy itself. 

Although those spreading the theories do not explicitly encourage violence, the narrative could lead to violence against the so-called representatives of this “evil elite”, the report states.

It points out that threats against politicians, journalists, scientists and lawyers are all increasing, particularly since the coronavirus pandemic, and in some cases have involved physical intimidation.

At the same time, “increasing society’s resilience to the anti-institutional narrative is essential,” the AIVD said. “Trust in government and institutions is low and there is often a lot of justified criticism, but this can become a breeding ground for anti-institutional extremism.”

National statistics agency CBS said earlier this month that public trust in parliament and politicians has plunged to an all-time low but trust in the police, health service and legal system remains close to 80%.

The survey suggests 25% of the over-15s had trust in parliament in the final quarter of last year and just 21% had confidence in politicians. The figure is the lowest since the research was first carried out in 2012.

“People must be able to criticize the government in a healthy democracy and criticism, protest and demonstrations against policy are essential in a democracy,’ home affairs minister Hanke Bruins Slot said in a reaction to MPs. 

At the same time, she said, ministers and MPs must look in the mirror and recognize where things have gone wrong, such as with the childcare benefits scandal and Groningen earthquakes. 

Politicians must regain the trust of voters and “reconnect with society” by becoming more responsive and service-driven. The AIVD report, she said, is a reminder of the need to protect democracy, “not only against the potential threat of extremism, but also against the more insidious erosion of the trust and respect.” 



Three money change offices damaged in ‘co-ordinated’ bombings

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Three money transfer offices in Amsterdam were hit by explosions on Tuesday night in what police are treating as a series of co-ordinated attacks.

The three branches of Suri-Change, used mainly by Surinamese migrants, were all targeted at around 3am. Police said nobody was injured but the damage was extensive and investigations are ongoing to establish if anything was stolen.

The offices were in Jan Evertsenstraat in the West district, the Eerste van Swindenstraat in East and the Bijlmerdreef in South-East.

Two months ago police raided the head office of Suri-Change in Rotterdam and arrested the 73-year-old owner and his two sons, aged 49 and 45.

Police believe the nine branch offices were being used to launder millions of euros of profits from international drug smuggling. They also impounded 42 properties with a total value of €25 million.



Listen better to ordinary people, think-tanks tell government

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The national ombudsman and national socio-cultural advisory body SCP have both called on the government to listen better to ordinary citizens.

Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said in his annual report that talking to people can sometimes result in surprisingly simple solutions for problems, as well as aiding financial and emotional recovery.

People often feel no one is listening to them and that they are not being taken seriously, he said. In addition, many people want their voices to be heard at other times, not just during elections.

“Participation can only be successful if people actually have a say and influence,’ he said. “We will continue to monitor how citizens are involved, in particular in areas where ‘participation’ is being used to paper over the cracks.”

The ombudsman’s report coincided with the publication of new recommendations from the SCP which also called on ministers to listen better to the people.

In particular, referenda and citizens’ committees representing a wide range of interests could be used to close the gap between politicians and the electorate, and make sure more opinions are heard, the SCP said.

The SCP said in April that the negative mood in the Netherlands worsened considerably last year, with the percentage of people thinking society is heading in the wrong direction rising from 46% in the spring to 62% by the autumn.

The percentage of people expecting the economy to worsen also rose from 63% to 73%, the SCP said, quoting figures from its continuous survey of public perspectives.

At the same time, however, 85% say they are satisfied with their own lives, a figure which has not changed for several years.



SXM Padel Club Hosts Second Annual International Padel Tennis Open June 15th-18th

SINT MAARTEN (BELAIR) - The highly anticipated second annual international Padel Tennis Open, organized by the SXM Padel Club, is set to take place from Thursday, June 15th, 2023, to Sunday, June 18th, 2023. This exhilarating tournament will feature three categories: Ladies all levels, Men's Advanced, and Men's Intermediate, showcasing some great Padel tennis talents from around the world.

With over 30 teams expected to participate, the event promises an incredible display of skill and competition. Players hailing from Argentina, France, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Spain, St. Martin, and St. Maarten will converge at the SXM Padel Club, adding an international flair to the tournament and demonstrating the global appeal of Padel tennis.

The matches will commence on Thursday, June 15th, at 6 pm, and will culminate in the highly anticipated final on Sunday, June 18th, at 7 pm. Spectators are invited to attend this thrilling event throughout the weekend, with admission completely free of charge. It's an excellent opportunity for sports enthusiasts and curious onlookers to witness world-class Padel tennis matches and experience the excitement firsthand.

Mr. Alex Swartz, a highly regarded local Padel tennis coach and Lucas Ferreyra from Argentina, will oversee the tournament ensuring the smooth operation of the event and maintaining the highest standards of competition. Their expertise and dedication to the sport guarantee a memorable experience for players and spectators alike.

The SXM Padel Club is grateful for the support of its main sponsors, Les Galets and Aloha Beach Bar and Restaurant, whose contributions have been instrumental in elevating the tournament. The Men's Advanced category will offer attractive cash prizes, with $1,200 awarded to the first-place team, $500 to the second-place team, and $300 to the third-place team. Additionally, participants in other categories will have the chance to win enticing prizes, including hotel stays and brunch vouchers from the esteemed Oyster Bay Beach Resort and Infinity Restaurant.  In addition, VIBOR-A USA managing director Santiago Garcia once again will be showcasing their high-quality line of products and giving accessories to the tournament participants.

Notably, the island now boasts a total of 8 Padel Tennis courts, the highest number of any other island in the Caribbean. This has positioned the SXM Padel Club as a leading destination for Padel tennis, promoting sports tourism and attracting visitors year-round, even during the off-season. The club, which opened its doors in December of 2021, also serves as the exclusive distributor of Padel 10 brand courts for the Caribbean. Padel 10, a globally recognized court manufacturer based in Barcelona, Spain is one of the leading companies in the industry.

Don't miss the opportunity to witness the electrifying action of the second annual international Padel Tennis Open. Join us at the SXM Padel Club from June 15th to June 18th for an unforgettable celebration of this rapidly growing sport.

 The SXM Padel Club opened its doors in December 2021 the club is committed to promoting the growth and popularity of Padel tennis in the region.


Concrete step made towards a joint CLA Health Care for the BES islands

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The five healthcare organizations and the 3 unions on the BES islands want to establish one joint CLA for the health Care organization within the BES. During the three-day meeting that took place in mid-May, Fundashon Mariadal, Sint Eustatius Health Care Foundation, Sint Eustatius Auxiliary Home, Mental Health Caribbean and Saba Cares, with the unions AFBW, All for 1 and SUPLUA, agreed to harmonize (primary) labor conditions, so that from now on equal work, is rewarded equally.

The meeting took place on Sint Maarten and will be continued in September this year. Parties will then make concrete agreements regarding the new CLA: the CLA Health Care BES, that will be applicable (initially) for the five health Care organizations and their respective employees.

With the harmonization, the most important primary employment conditions have been brought into line with the two existing, however still separate, CLA’s of Fundashon Mariadal and the healthcare organizations on Saba and St. Eustatius. Parties have established the ambition with the new CLA Health Care BES.

In addition, the structure of the new joint CLA has been formalized. Next to equal primary employment conditions regardless of where work is done on the BES, the structure also offers space for arranging island-specific aspects. The CLA- parties have also agreed to set up a technical committee. The members of the technical committee will work closely together in the coming months on the content of the CLA Health Care BES so that negotiations can take place in September.

Together we are stronger

The meetings, where a direct follow-up of the conference “Together we are stronger” held on St. Maarten in July 2022. In that conference, the parties established that the personnel and labor market issues facing each island can only be addressed effectively together. Healthcare organizations are experiencing increasing pressure from personnel shortage.

This affects the quality and continuity of care and underlines the urgency to take joint steps. The harmonization of the (primary) employment conditions at the five healthcare organizations is an important step forward. It gives a boost to mobility, making working on Saba and Sint Eustatius more attractive and counteracts competition among parties.


The CLA parties want to take the next step in September; one joint CLA for all five healthcare organizations and their employees. Parties do this on the basis of a joint ambition they have with the joint CLA Health CARE BES. The Government Coalition Agreement 2021 – 2025 (A better future for the entire Kingdom) provides parties with an important starting point.

Equality and mutuality are key points, including the aim to make Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius an equal part of the Netherlands. In this context, the joint CLA Health Care BES must specifically contribute to the ability to continue to provide high-quality care to residents of the BES. Now and in the coming years.

This is done by personnel who are (and remain) well-trained, with a CLA that has good, competitive employment conditions and contributes to the sustainable employability of the employees.

Regarding the level of employment conditions, parties focus on the CLA’s in European Netherlands and in particular the CLA for Hospitals, Mental Health and home care.

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