The National Ombudsman, Reinier van Zutphen, will visit Bonaire in the week of 30 August. He will hold a roundtable meeting in preparation for the 2022 Conference of the Kingdom’s Ombudsmen. This conference will centre on the relationship between citizens and the government in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, and is a follow-up to the 2019 conference that the National Ombudsman organised in the Netherlands. The Ombudsman will also visit his fellow Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel on St Maarten.
Reinier van Zutphen is looking forward to his visit. “I am delighted to be able to spend time on Bonaire again. Due to Covid restrictions, trips like this have been impossible for quite some time. Quarantine measures permitting, I also plan to hold roundtable meetings on Saba and St Eustatius at the end of November.”
Assisted living and day care
The Ombudsman will also visit a number of projects during his time on Bonaire. One stop will be an assisted living facility for young people aged 16 to 23, which forms part of a long-term Youth Care programme. This two-year assisted living pilot project was launched in March 2021, in response to a recommendation made in a report by the National Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children under the title A Poor Beginning. The Ombudsman will also visit the Fundashon Cocari day care centre, part of a campaign to expand provisions for the island’s older residents. This followed from the National Ombudsman’s report Focus on the elderly in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Consultation with St Maarten’s ombudsman
On St Maarten, Reinier van Zutphen will hold talks with Gwendolien Mossel, the Ombudsman of St Maarten, about the conference that the Kingdom’s Ombudsmen are organising in 2022. They will also address developments following an investigation of the problems encountered by Caribbean students and consider issues relating to poverty, which are currently the focus of a series of studies by the National Ombudsman in the Caribbean Netherlands. Finally, the ombudsmen will discuss cooperation in the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA), in which they both hold administrative positions.
The Ombudsman’s work goes on
Despite the travel restrictions of the past 18 months, the National Ombudsman has been hard at work for the residents of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. The topics investigated by his office have included the handling of complaints by the Dutch Caribbean Police Force and the Bonaire Health Insurance Office. At the end of 2020, the Ombudsman published his report focusing on concerns about Caribbean students. Since then, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science has announced efforts to streamline the transition to higher education in the European Netherlands for these students. The Ombudsman is monitoring these developments and has pledged continued action if matters do not improve quickly enough.
At present, the National Ombudsman has teamed up with the Ombudsman for Children to investigate parenting problems arising from poverty. They expect to publish their findings in the spring of 2022. This is the third in a series of studies on poverty problems in the Caribbean Netherlands. In 2020, the National Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children published their report on young people in the Caribbean Netherlands and called for an integrated approach to combating poverty among young people. In 2019, the National Ombudsman published his report on poverty among the elderly.
The National Ombudsman received 145 complaints from residents of the Caribbean Netherlands in 2020. A number of these complaints concerned the Public Entity of Bonaire. Others were related to the Covid crisis.
Contacting the National Ombudsman’s team
Residents of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba who have a question or want to submit a complaint to the National Ombudsman can contact our Caribbean Netherlands team:
- Using the complaint form on our website
- By calling +31 70 356 35 63 (on working days until 12 noon)
- On Skype, after contacting us by email to make an appointment
- On WhatsApp.
The team hopes to organise consultation sessions on Bonaire again in September. The exact time and place will be announced soon. As soon as quarantine measures allow and hopefully by the end of the year, we will also resume consultation sessions on Saba and St Eustatius.