Tuesday, Jul 23rd

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Editorial - Jurisprudence

The application of rulings by the Joint Court of Justice regarding the American-Dutch Friendship Treaty of 1956 (see related article) should not go unnoticed. It’s actually a bit ironic that this now takes place in Curaçao, while the related case started in St. Maarten.

Then-Justice Minister Roland Duncan had appealed the original verdict, but reportedly lost. This basically means US citizens are indeed to be afforded the same treatment as people from the Netherlands.

The latter would imply they no longer need an employment permit or foreign director’s licence to work on the Dutch side. Just like persons from the European part of the kingdom, they can stay freely for six months and longer if they have a job or proof of sufficient means to support themselves, no criminal record and adequate housing.

Once local authorities follow suit, the jurisprudence obviously will have far-reaching implications for St. Maarten too. However, these don’t necessarily have to be negative.

For one thing, fear of US citizens “flooding” the island to take jobs away from locals is probably unjustified to a large degree. The relatively low salaries on the one hand and high cost of living on the other hand most likely would impede such a development.

At the same time, it could lead to more foreign investment in businesses on the island because entrepreneurs from the US would be able to place trusted compatriots in key positions without all the current bureaucratic hassle and related financial expense. What would be interesting as well now is to explore, perhaps via a class action suit in a US court, exactly what rights in practice the treaty gives Dutchmen in that country, including those from the islands.