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St. Maarten governor Holiday: ‘Effectiveness’ of councils dependent on the quality of advices

SATURDAY, 30 MARCH 2013

DAWN BEACH–“The effectiveness of the work of the Councils is dependent on the quality of the advices and on the weight and the confidence that the communities have in the Councils as the Guardians of Good Governance,” said Governor Eugene Holiday at the recently held quadripartite consultations of the Advisory Council of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Council of State.

Holiday opened the quadripartite meetings on March 21 in his capacity as the constitutional chair of the Advisory Council of St. Maarten. He shared his thoughts on various issues, among which on the importance of the advice of the Advisory Council in promoting Good Governance.

He believes that there is an important role for the Councils towards the promotion of Good Governance in the countries within the Kingdom. “Important, however, is that Good Governance is not only about establishing regulations and institutions. Ultimately, the realisation of Good Governance is dependent on the behaviour and attitude of Government and Parliament towards Good Governance.”

Government and Parliament have to earn the trust of the people by nurturing and promoting Good Governance on a daily basis, the Governor said. Failure to do so only harms the established principles of democracy and state of law and, ultimately, the country.

“The role of the Councils to promote checks and balances and ultimately Good Governance is of utmost importance. Notwithstanding the fact that the advices of the Councils are not binding, they should be taken seriously by Government and Parliament. As such, when an advice is not followed, a proper and valid reasoning has to be provided,” he said.

The delegations from Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Council of State deliberated on the aspects of Good Governance, which were classified as topics of common concern, in their capacity as last advisors to Government and Parliament. Those aspects were the position of the Governor, checks and balances, constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, institutional requirement for Good Governance and use of dual language for legislation.

The Advisory Council hosted a semi-public symposium entitled: “The use of a Constitutional Court for the settlement of disputes in the Kingdom” as an introduction to the quadripartite consultations at University of St. Martin on March 20. Keynote speaker was Suzy Römer LL.M., who is a Judge Substitute of the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten. Her opinion was that it is precisely the task of a judge to check if the law is in accordance with the constitution. More political parties and civil organizations are in favour of a Constitutional Court, which can also settle these kinds of disputes.

In her view, a Constitutional Court would be recommendable for all the countries. In time, it could even become a Common Constitutional Court of Justice. Its task should be broad, having to examine the compatibility of legislation which is not yet in force, as is already the case in St. Maarten. It should also have the task of prejudicial review in specific cases of the legislation already in force, which is now de facto task of the Common Court of Justice in the Caribbean countries when dealing with specific cases which have a possible conflict with fundamental right, and in case of directly binding stipulations also of the Courts in The Netherlands.

The settlement of internal disputes within and between organs of the State, as the case of Curaçao has shown, within the countries itself should also be part of these tasks.

She noted that a Constitutional Court should furthermore be established for the interpretation of articles of the Kingdom Charter in case of a dispute, and for the settlement of disputes between the Kingdom and the countries, or the countries among each other. The composition of the Constitutional Court should be mixed, for which they could follow St. Maarten’s example.

Featured speaker Ombudsman Nilda Arduin also gave a short description of the history of the Constitutional Court and an outline of the tasks of the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten.

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