Good intentions

Good intentions

Tuesday’s report out of The Hague on the Council of State’s opinion regarding a proposal that would make Dutch equal treatment laws applicable to Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (so-called BES islands) was interesting. It said the matter required further clarification and recommended additional financial measures for companies or organisations that would be “disproportionally” impacted by having to acquire facilities for disabled persons.

The draft bill aims to synchronise the approach to discrimination in the European and Caribbean parts of the Netherlands. The highest advisory body in the kingdom no doubt agrees with that, but also sees sees potential undesirable short-term effects.

When these three islands became special overseas public entities of the Netherlands per 10-10-10, this kind of dilemma was bound to occur as they transition from legislation of the former – dismantled – Netherlands Antilles to that of the European part of the kingdom. While most feel their citizens should have the exact same rights, there are accompanying responsibilities and obligations too.

The council also said much of the equal treatment regulations find their origin in European law that cannot automatically be applied to the Caribbean Netherlands, and possible consequences in case of voluntary acceptance are not explained. Although mention was made of taking into account local facts and circumstances, how such situations will be evaluated in practice remains unclear.

What all this shows is that even the most well-meant initiatives can have – sometimes unforeseen – negative aspects. They say the “Road to Hell” is paved with good intentions.

The Daily Herald

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