Today’s Opinion: Trouble on the horizon

POSTED: 04/20/11 12:25 PM

Justice Minister Roland Duncan seems to have a talent for hopping from one problem to the next. Whether it is the dismissal of Bas Roorda, the firearm policy or the Brooks Tower Accord, as soon as Duncan’s name is involved, there is trouble on the horizon.

While the firearm policy is apparently about to be introduced (unless the parliament intervenes), and while the Bas Roorda-case is slowly getting ready to go to court, the Brooks Tower Accord has created its own controversy – and Duncan is smack in the middle of it.

A judge in the administrative court has asked Duncan to provide information about statements he allegedly made in the parliament. The court wants to double check Duncan’s statement that first applications for a temporary residence permit under the Brooks Tower Accord will be accepted after December 15, 2009.

We’re not at all sure that the Minister said this (we don’t want to get into deliberate incorrect reporting here), but the attorney for a man from Dominican Republic, Denicio Brison, claims that the Minister did say this. The Minister also apparently said that “everybody is allowed to submit an application.”

Knowing Duncan a little bit, we suspect that this lighthearted statement needs to be seen in its proper perspective. Allowing somebody to submit an application is not the same as giving somebody a permit, the Minister will  probably respond.

Brison’s client, who was born on the island (not here but on the French side) was deported while he was awaiting a decision about his Brooks Tower application. He filed it on December 8 of last year.

That’s too late, according to the rules we are aware off. Duncan made clear after reviewing the BTA last year that he would extend the deadline for applications that were under consideration until December 30 of last year, but that he would not accept new applications.

That seems clear, right? Brison argues that there is now utter confusion, not only because his client’s application was accepted by the intake bureau on December 8, but also because several immigrants who belong in the third category have in the meantime obtained work permits.
Category 3 immigrants are those who arrived on the island after December 2005; they were all expected to leave the island.

With these occurrences, the confusion and the chaos in Brooks Tower land is complete. While, in our opinion, the Minister had made clear statements about the BTA (no new applications), the reality is that the intake office does accept new applications. Even better, people without BTA papers are apparently getting work permits.

Based on the principle of equality, Brison says, it is no longer reasonable to turn down any application.

Minister Duncan will without any doubt and understandably disagree with that point of view. We’re of two minds, really, and we are not able to ignore that the last Justice Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, Magali Jacoba, has most likely caused the situation Duncan finds himself responsible for now.

Because it was Jacoba who declared in early October of last year, just before the transition to country status, that the project had run smoothly, and that there were only 184 applications left to be processed. That must have been a big fat lie, given the chaos that took place at the immigration building in the months afterwards.

Unfortunately for the Minister, Jacoba is no longer around to be called to account. The sooner this situation is cleared up, the better it is for all immigrants who are now scratching their heads in bewilderment.


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