ORANJESTAD, St Eustatius– The day-to-day running of the Dutch Caribbean territory of St Eustatius is being taken over by The Netherlands government, after a committee that investigated the state of the island pointed to corruption and “a gross neglect of duties” there.
As a result of the decision, the island’s governing body – the island council – will be dissolved and the deputies and acting lieutenant governor relieved of their duties. In their place, a government commissioner will be appointed to be in charge of the administration of St Eustatius until the island council is able to perform these duties properly again. Only then will elections for a new island council be held, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said.
Raymond Knops, State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations made the announcement on Monday. He is scheduled to travel to St Eustatius this week to explain the development to residents.
Knops said the decision was made based on a report from the committee that investigated the state of the island, following concerns about how it was being governed.
The committee had concluded that the current governing situation was characterized by lawlessness and financial mismanagement, and there were also signs of discrimination, intimidation, threats and insults, and the pursuit of personal power at the expense of the inhabitants.
According to the committee, “citizens and entrepreneurs experience legal inequality. No administration is in order and the island is neglected in a physical sense”.
“Since other measures have not brought the island council to repentance, there is only one thing left to do: governing intervention. It is the harshest measure, but now that everything else has failed, it is the only possibility that remains,” Knops said in a statement. “The people of St Eustatius deserve better.”
St Eustatius, an 8.1 square-mile island in the northern Leeward Islands, had a population of 3,877 in 2016