Statia Exco starts legal proceedings against island-Governor Woodley

Interim Island Governor Julian Woodley, here seen on an archive picture with Will Johnson. Photo: Harald Linkels

Oranjestad- The 2 commissioners of the Public Entity of Sint Eustatius, Derrick Simmons and Charles Woodley, have started a court case (Kort Geding) against interim island-Governor Julian Woodley. By means of the court case the commissioners want to force the island-Governor to sign decisions taken by them in the Executive Council. The case will be heard tomorrow at 10 AM in The Lions Den and will be streamed live on Radio Statia.

The court case comes after a long period of protests by the two commissioners about Woodley refusing to sign decisions taken in the Executive Council, because he is not in agreement with the contents of the decisions. Commissioners Woodley and Simmons for some time already indicated that they feel the governor is overstepping his boundaries. They have pointed out that, should the Governor not be in agreement with any Executive Council decision, he has the option to present the decisions withing 2 times 24 hours for annulment. Just refusing to sign however, can be considered obstruction of the functioning of the Executive Council by the island-Governor.

Experts on the matter, consulted informally by the BES-Reporter, have confirmed that simply refusing to sign is not an option for the Governor. The governing coalition feels that Woodley is acting on instructions from The Hague to sabotage local government as much as possible. The Hague has various times pointed out that decisions taken by Executive Council are deemed “not legal” because they lack the signature of interim-Governor Woodley. This has led to a complete stalemate on a local government level.

The BES-Reporter understands that The Hague is absolutely livid about the legal action undertaken by the two commissioners. In an undated letter minister of Interior Affairs Ronald Plasterk calls the action by the commissioners ‘unheard of’. According to Plasterk mediation would have been a more acceptable means of trying to overcome a difference of opinion.

The minister also applies a certain degree of psychological arm-twisting by writing to the two commissioners that they will have to pay for the court case out of their own personal pocket, as he (Plasterk) has not given any approval for those costs. At the same time Plasterk writes that any legal costs on behalf of Governor Woodley, will be covered by local government.

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