Published On: Thu, Apr 19th, 2018

Worries about outdated criminal law on islands

Dutch ParliamentTHE HAGUE - Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Chris van Dam and Joba van den Berg, both of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, find it unacceptable that an outdated criminal law can lead to acquittal of certain crimes in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The case in question concerns a man A.W. who was recently acquitted by the Court in Bonaire of having committed sexual handling of a woman who was under the influence of drugs, possibly in combination with alcohol, and was in a state of diminished consciousness. The incident took place in Bonaire in June last year.

The Court acquitted the Curaçao-born man because, according to the Caribbean Netherlands Criminal Law, it is not punishable to willingly enter the body of a person who is in a state of diminished consciousness. It became clear during the Court case that the woman was unable to determine her will, and that the suspect was aware of this. Nonetheless, the man was acquitted of rape charges.

Troubled by this development and the fact that the Caribbean Netherlands criminal law is outdated, Members of Parliament (MPs) Van Dam and Van den Berg on Wednesday demanded clarity in their written questions to Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus.

The MPs asked the Minister to confirm the recent case in which the Court in Bonaire acquitted a suspect of forceful sexual handling. They wanted to know how many other acquittals there had been as a result of the outdated criminal legislation.

Under the Penal Codes of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten it is punishable to forcefully enter the body of a person who is in a state of diminished consciousness and who cannot determine their own will because of the state they are in.

The MPs inquired why the criminal legislation in the Caribbean Netherlands differed from the law in other parts of the Kingdom and when the Caribbean Netherlands Criminal Law would be adapted and/or modernised.

Two other MPs also submitted written questions about the Caribbean Netherlands on Wednesday. Linda Voortman and Liesbeth van Tongeren, both of the green left party GroenLinks, asked State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops about the Dutch support for social housing projects on the islands, in particular Bonaire.

The MPs wanted to know whether it was correct that Knops did not plan on facilitating a financial guarantee so the Bonaire housing foundation FCB could initiate a US $36 million project to build 500 new homes. The MPs inquired as to the role of Dutch housing corporations in social housing projects in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

Voortman and Van Tongeren asked about the extent of the shortage of affordable and social housing in the Caribbean Netherlands, and what means the islands had at their disposal to tackle this issue. They urged Knops to make haste in tackling the shortage, also in light of the high poverty rate on the islands.

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