Equal treatment legislation is being introduced in Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius

The Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations has decided to introduce equal treatment legislation, such as the Dutch Equal Treatment Act, in Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands.

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The decision is in line with the exploratory study that the Minister and the State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation received last week from an external advisory committee, and can count on broad support. The executive councils of Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius have previously urged the rapid introduction and implementation of the equal treatment laws.

Minister Bruins Slot: “Article 1 of the Constitution applies throughout the Netherlands, including the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands. The underlying legislation should therefore also apply to Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. We are now going to take this important step”.

State Secretary van Huffelen: “Last year, the executive councils expressly asked me to introduce and implement this legislation as quickly as possible. The advisory committee has had in-depth discussions on the islands about the fundamental right to equal treatment. It is very important to me that the public bodies were closely involved in the realisation of that advice”. 

Article 1 of the Constitution contains the equality principle and the prohibition of discrimination. It has been elaborated in a number of equal treatment laws, which prohibit discrimination on the grounds stated therein. To date, these equal treatment laws only apply in the European part of the Netherlands. That will now be changed. With the introduction of this legislation, the local anti-discrimination information lines and the possibility of individual complaint handling by the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, there will be increased protection on the islands against discrimination on the grounds of, among other things, skin colour, sexual orientation, religion, disability and gender. The right to equal treatment will become easier to invoke and enforce; efforts will also be made to raise awareness of the new legislation. 

In addition to the executive councils, the House of Representatives and the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights have also expressed their support. The NCDR [National Coordinator against Discrimination and Racism], the National Ombudsman, Discrimination.nl (the cooperating anti-discrimination facilities) and the NGOs and discussion partners involved on the three islands also support the findings and recommendations. The minister takes the decision also on behalf of the State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, the Minister for Legal Protection, the Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions and the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport.

The advisory committee that carried out the exploratory study consisted of Mr Glenn Thodé (former Island Governor of Bonaire) and chairman of the Data Protection Authority BES (CBP-BES) and Mr Jacques van Eck (former State Council at the Council of State and member of the CBP-BES). Minister Bruins Slot will initiate the legislative process to declare equal treatment laws applicable to the Caribbean part of the Netherlands The facilities for reporting, legal assistance and complaint handling will also be elaborated.