Published On: Tue, Sep 11th, 2018

The Netherlands has no legal obligation to intervene in Curaçao

RefugeesTHE HAGUE, WILLEMSTAD - Curaçao itself is responsible for implementing an adequate migration policy, says Undersecretary for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops today on a critical report from Amnesty International about the refugee problem on the island. Venezuelan refugees who land on Curaçao are detained, sometimes mistreated and 'deported' without asylum, Amnesty wrote. The Netherlands, as the largest player in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, has to do something about it, according to the human rights organization.

Arjen van Rijn, extraordinary professor of constitutional law at the University of Curaçao, says that Knops is legally right. "The Netherlands has no legal obligation to intervene." Yet the Netherlands cannot do anything, he continues. "There is a moral obligation. And since the Kingdom as a whole is being addressed by Amnesty for these human rights violations, the Netherlands certainly finds this very annoying."

"It is first and foremost an individual country affair to arrange this properly, say Curaçao and Knops. But you can also see that differently. Because refugee relief is an international issue. And cross-border cases go all over the Kingdom. This is according to the agreement. Of course, Curaçao has not signed the Refugee Convention and the Netherlands did. But because of the cross-border and humanitarian dimension, the Netherlands can still claim that the Refugee Convention must apply to the entire Kingdom, including Curaçao. That cannot ultimately stop Curaçao. And then the treaty must also be observed here."

"Knops is a bit hesitant about it seeing his reaction. I understand that, because if you say A, you must also say B. If the Netherlands enforces that Curaçao adheres to that refugee treaty, then the Netherlands must assist Curaçao in compliance. That was agreed in the Statute of the Kingdom in 2010. And the Netherlands is not waiting for that. That means quite a lot: people, money, accountability. And if the Netherlands more or less takes over the sheltering of refugees on the island, then that gives a lot of hassle in Curaçao, because that will not be appreciated. That is seen as interference from the Netherlands."

"You cannot leave these refugees from Venezuela to their fate after this Amnesty report. You cannot call against Curaçao: 'Shame' and then: 'Solve this yourself'. You cannot take over too much, because it will always have to be in collaboration with the people here to be successful. For example, I would send a senior official from The Hague to see how this matter can be improved in joint consultation. And open an extra jar of money. Knops is already sending help, he says, and that's right. I honestly think that the pressure on Curaçao is already increasing behind the scenes to tackle this problem."

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