National Ombudsman: public entity of Bonaire too slow to respond

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    The public entity of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands has failed to communicate adequately with citizens, says the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, Reinier van Zutphen. In his report entitled 'En toen bleef het stil…', the Ombudsman considers five different complaints submitted by citizens. Van Zutphen concludes that the public entity was very slow to respond, or that action was only taken when the Ombudsman got involved. "During all that time, the citizens concerned remained in the dark about what they could expect from the public entity," says Van Zutphen.

    The Ombudsman selected five cases for investigation. They concern such matters as leasing out land to someone other than the owner, a land swap with the public entity, and the granting of a diving licence. Because an intervention produced no results, the Ombudsman sent several reminders to the public entity. However, he too received no response. By conducting this investigation the Ombudsman wants to raise awareness of the importance of effective government services, and obtain clarity about how the public entity responded to the five complaints and which structural solutions are required.

    The National Ombudsman assesses the actions of government entities against specific thoroughness and conscientiousness criteria. The context within which a particular government body operates can make it difficult to comply with these requirements. The Ombudsman's report is part of a review of the past three years in which he was authorized to handle complaints about the public entity of Bonaire. In this first report, he clarifies what citizens may reasonably expect from the public entity.