Residence Permits in St. Maarten and the American-Dutch Friendship Treaty

Minister of Justice Roland Duncan has complied with a September 11 court order to make a new decision on the request of several residents of the United States to grant them a so-called “Declaration of Admission by Law” (“Van Rechtswege Verklaring” in Dutch), based on the American-Dutch Friendship Treaty of 1956.

Permits will be issued to US residents who meet the same requirements as European Dutchmen, where residence permits are concerned. These include a declaration of good conduct, housing, sufficient income and health insurance, Minister Duncan wrote this in a letter Wednesday to attorney-at-law Vivian Choennie, the legal representative of Claire Loraine Talmi-Zarelli, one of the litigants in this case.In the letter, the Minister stated Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND would hand out the requested declarations shortly. He added permit holders would periodically have to prove they were still adhering to requirements, or the admission by law, conform Article 5, Sub-c of the Ordinance on Admission and Expulsion LTU, will be terminated, the Minister warned.

[. . .] General Manager of Oyster Bay Beach Resort Ricardo Perez, his wife and their two daughters, as well as Tina Marie Abbott, were also among the US residents who appealed the decision to deny their requests for permanent residency. Perez informed The Daily Herald he had not heard from the minister as yet. His attorney Wim van Sambeek said Thursday he was expecting a similar ministerial decision in his clients’ cases, because these were “practically identical.” “Clients are pleased that the minister, in accordance with the Friendship Treaty, will be treating European Dutch and American nationals equally where the granting of admission by law is concerned, provided they meet the conditions,” Van Sambeek stated.

Already in June 2011, The Court of First Instance confirmed that the American-Dutch Friendship Treaty is directly applicable in St. Maarten, which means that citizens of the United States are subject to the same rules as European Dutchmen, where residence permits are concerned. The Court had ordered the Minister of Justice to make new decisions on litigants’ requests, but the Minister had turned down all requests. Minister Duncan had maintained that the equal treatment of US residents compared with European Dutch residents, especially where the admission by law is concerned, was not unlimited. [. . .] Minister Duncan had ordered extensive research on the matter, which had taken quite some time. This study was nearing completion, it was said, and, therefore, Duncan asked for a postponement of the case.However, Judge René van Veen of the Court of First Instance turned down the minister’s request, stating that his time was up. “The friendship treaty is more than 50 years old, and the defendant already had 50 years to implement regulations,” the judge said on September 11.

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