Government pushing for emancipation holiday this year

POSTED: 06/1/12 12:18 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs says the government is “doing all we can” to ensure that Emancipation Day – July 1 – will be a holiday this year. Parliament will meet on Monday to debate the ordinance that will make Emancipation Day a holiday. The law on publication of laws states a specific time frame for a law to be published before it takes effect. The legally stipulated periods include a seven week period where the constitutionality of the law can be challenged.

“Everybody is saying it’s a go and we don’t expect any glitches and that not being kept back. We were able to sign what is called an afwijking (deviation) that will still allow us to be able to have it as a holiday celebrated on July 1 coming. If that is not the case you will find out after. Up to now I am of the impression that it is still possible, but if that is not the case you will be involved after the parliament when I meet with the people that have to execute this ordinance,” Jacobs said.

The government has begun planning a ceremony for the day, whether it is a holiday or not, especially considering that July 1 is a Sunday – a leisure day. There are also plans to have an education campaign about Emancipation Day and to take a look at exactly how many years ago slaves gained their emancipation. The Kingdom of the Netherlands will be marking 160 years since the abolition of slavery next year, but St. Maarten/St. Martin is in a special situation because France abolished slavery earlier than the Dutch and slaves in St. Maarten ran to the French side.

“We need to reflect the reality. We will do all we can to maintain freedom for all our people, because we also know about the modern types of slavery, which we also need to have a very hard look at and deal with,” Jacobs said.

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