Sint Maarten defends human rights record
Geneva, Switzerland – On November 15, 2022, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson led the Kingdom delegation to the 41st session of the 4th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland. The Minister’s delegation was supported by Interim Director of Foreign Relations Mr. Patrice Gumbs and Senior Legal Advisor of Judicial Affairs Ms. Geertje van Haperen.
The UPR is an examination by UN member states of each other’s record in upholding international human rights obligations. Of the 193 UN member states, the Kingdom received 101 interventions and a total of 255 recommendations. Sint Maarten’s recommendations focused mainly on the areas of migration, asylum, and climate. Great appreciation was noted for the work being done to improve the penitentiary system, including the construction of a new detention center (prison) on the island by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The state of the detention centers has been an issue for Sint Maarten for several years.
In her opening statement, Minister Richardson discussed the project which is in its final stages as well as a comprehensive plan of approach that will focus on rehabilitation. In her remarks, Minister Richardson also discussed the impact of climate change on small islands, victim support, children’s rights, and the role of the recently launched National Development Vision (NDV). The NDV will be used to align government actions with international obligations moving forward. Human Rights on Sint Maarten are coordinated by the Human Rights Platform, an inter-ministerial work group, and chaired by the Department of Foreign Relations.
In regards to the more general recommendations for the Kingdom, whose delegation is composed of the Ministers of Justice of Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Maarten as well as the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, a note was made in the varying degrees of the application of rights across the Kingdom. Specific mention was made of capacity issues as well as the conditions for aid and support between the larger country and the countries in the Caribbean. Overall, the UN member states gave a positive response to the Kingdom’s report and responses to criticism received. The Kingdom will follow up in February with what recommendations will be accepted. Minister Richardson closed the 41st session by reiterating the Government’s commitment to human rights as well as the importance of a strong civil society in the development of a healthy democracy.
Persons interested in rewatching the hearing are invited to follow the link: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k17/k17e8egg57