Friday, May 29th

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Editorial - How the cookie crumbles

The decision by the Ombudsman to send the Integrity Chamber Law to the Constitutional Court for review (see Saturday paper) no doubt will delay the process to establish such. It regards a national ordinance passed by Parliament under pressure from the Kingdom Council of Ministers, which had threatened to adopt its own version via a General Measure of Kingdom Governance.

However, although some in The Hague may be disappointed with the news, they should blame neither the Gumbs cabinet nor the legislature for this latest snag. After all, the Ombudsman is a completely independent high council of state that acts as guardian of the constitution and does not take orders from anyone.

Moreover, it regards one of the so-called “checks and balances” to prevent decisions considered in contravention of the highest law of the land and international treaties to which the country prescribes. Those kinds of perceived incorrect actions by the local political establishment are exactly some of the things about which the Dutch tend to complain and worry.

St. Maarten actually happens to be the only kingdom partner that created a Constitutional Court to rule on such issues. That this safeguard works has been proven already in several cases.

So, while it’s perhaps a bit ironic that precisely an entity entrusted with seeing to it that the rule of law is respected has now caused a postponement of the Integrity Chamber, this is how the cookie crumbles. The individual rights of private citizens must be protected sufficiently, as that too is part of a modern, well-functioning democracy.