Dutch government assumes direct rule over St Eustatius after allegations of gross neglect

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Lower Town, St Eustatius. Photo: Walter Hellebrand/Wikimedia

By Caribbean News Cow contributor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands is assuming direct control of the government of St Eustatius, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, state secretary for the interior and kingdom relations Raymond Knops announced on Monday. The decision was reportedly made based on a report from a committee that investigated the state of the island and concluded that there is a “gross neglect of duties” on St Eustatius.

The local governing body, the island council, will be dissolved and other officials will be relieved of their duties. A government commissioner will be appointed to administer the island’s affairs. Knops was due to travel to the island this week to explain the Dutch government’s decision to the local population.

The situation on St Eustatius has been a concern to the Netherlands government for some time, and the previous minister of home affairs Ronald Plasterk established a committee to identify the problems and make recommendations on how to correct the situation.

The committee concluded that the local government was characterized by lawlessness and financial mismanagement. There are also signs of discrimination, intimidation, threats and insults, and the pursuit of personal power at the expense of the inhabitants, the committee said.

“Citizens and entrepreneurs experience legal inequality. No administration is in order and the island is neglected in a physical sense,” according to the committee.

Knops said in a statement that since other measures have not brought the island council to heel, there is only one thing left to do: government intervention.

“It is the harshest measure, but now that everything else has failed, it is the only possibility that remains. The people of St Eustatius deserve better,” he said.

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