Kingdom Visa law, freedom of movement major themes at mid-June gathering

POSTED: 06/1/11 12:23 PM

St. Maarten – Justice Ministers from the Dutch Caribbean will discuss the Kingdom Visa Law with Dutch Minister of Immigration and Integration Geerd Leers on June 18. The draft law is unpopular in the Dutch Caribbean because it gives the authority over visa issuance, currently held by Justice Ministers in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Roland Duncan said on Sunday’s For the Record with Eddie Williams on Radio Soualiga 99.9 Choice F.M that he’s protesting on the principal grounds that visas are an immigration matter and not a foreign affairs issue. He also fears that it will not give sufficient space for countries to determine and then pursue their national interests.
“We have different interests and one visa policy will be easier said than done. It’s not necessarily that we’re against having one guideline, but that needs to allow us to determine the national interest,” Duncan said.
One example of the national interest that plays when it comes to issuing visas is the fact that Curacao does not have a visa restriction while St. Maarten, which recently gained the authority, and Aruba, which has had the authority since it became a country within the Dutch Kingdom 25 years ago, require Jamaicans to have visas.
“Curacao and Jamaica have a trade relationship where Jamaicans go to the free zone and shop. St. Maarten and Aruba have no such relationship,” Duncan said to illustrate his point.
The minister has also rebuffed the fact that the Dutch minister will consult the islands as part of the process of determining which countries will need visas, and which will not.
“They (the Dutch) don’t consult me about visas for Libyans and Moroccans,” Duncan said.
He’d later say that he’d heard the Dutch have plans to lift the visa requirement for Taiwanese and Macedonians. While he admits have little knowledge as to why Macedonians should be allowed to move freely in the Kingdom, he has no problem with the Taiwanese, calling them an “already present force in the Caribbean.”

The June 19 meeting is part of four days of meetings of Justice and Immigration officials from both sides of the Kingdom. The Justice Ministers of Aruba and Curacao will arrive June 17. A day later, Duncan and his two Caribbean counterparts will meet for a tripartite discussion on a range of topics, including free movement between the countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. They will be joined later in the day by Minister Leers and Aruba’s Minister of Immigration Benny Sevinger for the discussion on movement in the Kingdom and the Kingdom Visa Law. The Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten will join the discussions on Monday. He will be here to discuss assistance and cooperation. All meetings will be held at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa.

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