~ PvdA to agree to revised law proposal ~
THE HAGUE--The Dutch Labour Party PvdA is willing to give its consent to a law that will specifically regulate the residency of deprived, poorly educated, criminal persons from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the Netherlands and not target all new immigrants from the islands.
This means that there will be majority support if the law proposal's initiative-taker Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party amends his law proposal. Bosman already has indicated willingness to do so.
The current law proposal that targets all new immigrants from the overseas countries based on their place of birth is a no-go for the PvdA. "We want to focus on the groups in the Netherlands that cause trouble and commit crime. Those are the people from the islands that move to the Netherlands with a criminal record or without a diploma," said PvdA Member of the Second Chamber Roelof van Laar during the handling of the so-called Bosman law proposal on Wednesday.
"We can ask of them that they establish themselves in the Netherlands only when they have a job or income, when they set up a business or want to study. Without a plan, without a future they have nothing to gain in the Netherlands," he said.
Differentiation based on birthplace or ethnic grounds is unacceptable to the PvdA. "We have to prevent that differentiation is made on the wrong grounds. Differentiation has to be proportional and justified," said Van Laar.
"It shouldn't matter where your cradle stood and the birthplace of one's parents shouldn't be looked at either, as is the case in the Bosman law proposal. My principal objections to this law will have to be removed. The PvdA will not agree with this law proposal if it isn't changed fundamentally," stated Van Laar after the meeting.
The fact that the PvdA is willing to accept the law proposal if it is adapted to focus on the small target group that tends to cause problems in the Netherlands means that the Bosman law most probably will be approved by the Second Chamber when it comes to voting at a later stage.
The Party for Freedom PVV and the reformed Christian party SGP are in favour, while the Christian Democratic Party CDA, like the PvdA, is willing to give its consent if the law proposal is adapted in such a way that juridical obstructions are removed.
"In principle, the requirements aren't a bad idea. Youngsters who don't have a network, don't have an education and no income are often the same ones who end up in prison," said CDA Member of Parliament (MP) Madeleine van Toorenburg, who has been a director at a youth detention facility in the past.
Van Laar said he would await the next move by the initiative-taker, Bosman. One thing is sure: the PvdA wants a "fundamentally different law." However, a law to regulate the residency of people without an education and with a criminal record – in other words, people without a future – is justified, even if the overseas countries are against it, said Van Laar.
Van Laar and Van Toorenburg indicated that they were in favour of a Kingdom Law to regulate the movement of persons between the countries in the Kingdom. "Let's come to an arrangement that we have been discussing for decades. We have put the pot on the fire, the water is boiling. Let's make something good with it," said Van Toorenburg.
Bosman's preference also is a Kingdom Law. He drafted an amendment in December last year stating that "his" law would be annulled if a Kingdom Law on the movement of persons were to be approved. But waiting on that Kingdom Law for a long time is not an option, said MP Malik Azmani of the VVD. "It is time for the next step. We can't continue to mop the floor with the faucet open," said Azmani.
The opposition parties, with the exception of the PVV and SGP, are against the Bosman law proposal. The Socialist Party (SP), the CDA, the democratic party D66, the Christian Union CU and the green left party GroenLinks voiced their objections during the handling on Wednesday.
The opposition parties agreed with Bosman and the VVD and the PvdA that the problems with deprived, poorly-educated Dutch Caribbean youngsters in the Netherlands required a solution, but they objected to doing so through this law proposal.
SP, D66, CU and GroenLinks pointed out that various legal experts, including the influential Meijers Committee, had stated that Bosman's law proposal is in violation of international conventions and that it discriminates against a single group in society, which is against the law and the Dutch Constitution.
"We are all equal, but apparently some are less equal than others," said Linda Voortman of GroenLinks. "It turns Dutch Caribbean persons into a different kind of Dutch citizen."
She said the law proposal would not increase the opportunities of Dutch Caribbean youngsters in the Netherlands. "We need a fundamental solution, we need to tackle the real cause and that is to invest in education and to alleviate poverty on the islands," she said.
Sharon Gesthuizen of the SP said the law proposal rightfully had caused a lot of commotion, as it restricted the free movement of persons within the Kingdom. She accused the VVD of "throwing all people from the islands on one big pile" and said the law would have a "stigmatising effect."
She said the relatively small group of problematic youngsters did not cause the Dutch state to "shake on its foundation." She reiterated that the majority of island people living in the Netherlands either worked or studied and contributed to the welfare state.
"This is a blunder," said Gerard Schouw of D66. His party has legal, practical and principle objections to the law proposal. He cited a number of international and European conventions and said the law proposal contributed to race discrimination and differentiation based on ethnicity. He pointed out that Dutch Caribbean people are Dutch citizens. Dutch citizenship is undivided, he added.
Gert Jan Segers of the CU said the law proposal "scraped against the borders of the Charter." He said it would "drive a wedge" and cause Dutch Caribbean people to become second-rate Dutch citizens. The repatriation of Dutch Caribbean people causing trouble in Dutch society in effect would mean that this group of people would fall under the detention law for foreigners, said Segers.
He called on all partners in the Kingdom to "look ahead and join hands" to solve the issue of problematic Dutch Caribbean youngsters in the Netherlands.
Bosman said in an invited comment after the meeting that he appreciated the parties' contributions. He said he would look at them carefully, answer the questions and address the concerns. Bosman already had announced earlier that he would draft an amendment to accommodate Parliament. A date has not been set for the second session of the handling in Parliament.
A large group of persons of Dutch Caribbean descent and other supporters attended Wednesday's meeting. Consultative Council for Dutch Caribbean persons OCAN Chairman Glenn Helberg said after the meeting that he was disappointed in the PvdA's position.
Helberg referred to speculations that the PvdA had agreed to give in to its coalition partner VVD because of another unrelated law, the VVD proposal to make the illegality of persons punishable by law. The PvdA is against this proposal and may have its way if the party goes along with the Bosman law proposal, be it in an amended format.
"Our fundamental rights have become part of a barter and that is very sad," Helberg said. He said OCAN always had and would continue to press on all Kingdom partners to invest in education and the combating of poverty on the islands.