The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four countries: Aruba, Sint Maarten, Curaçao and the Netherlands. Each year, the ombuds institutions of the kingdom meet each other and discuss challenges, successes and experiences. This year, they met in Aruba as this country now too will very soon have its own ombuds institution.
One of the topics that came up several times, and which was extensively explored in the lectures that were provided by the Ombudsman of Curacao, Keursly Concincion, the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten, Gwendolien Mossel, and the National Ombudsman, Reinier van Zutphen, at the University of Aruba, is the role of the ombudsman. What is your position in the constitutional framework of your country, how do you deal with politics, when do you put pressure on government and how do you implement decisions of the courts in your daily work? The ombudsman of Sint Maarten remarked that ombuds institutions are not adversaries, but voice the concern of the people. A signal that should not be ignored by the government.
During a meeting with the Prime Minister of Aruba, Mrs. Evelyn Wever-Croes, the development of the ombudsman law and the selection procedure of the first ombudsman were discussed. The law on the Ombudsman of Aruba is very progressive as it gives the ombudsman the power to investigate actions from Government companies. In the Caribbean part of the kingdom, the provision of water and electricity, for instance, is transferred to government owned companies. These are private, but carry out a task of public interest. This law is therefore in accordance with article 13 of the Venice Principles.
During their meeting, the National Ombudsman also organised an online meeting with the Latin American and Caribbean regional board to discuss the themes of the IOI world conference 2024 in The Hague. This meeting again made clear that hearing about the work and experiences in a different region can provide new insights in the work of ombuds institutions.
Source: The National Ombudsman of the Netherlands