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Willemstad
• donderdag 7 juli 2022

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Parliamentary inquiry on intelligence agency

WILLEMSTAD – A motion to conduct a parliamentary inquiry on the functioning of the Security Service of the former Netherlands Antilles VNA and its successor of country Curaçao VDC was adopted by the legislature early Saturday morning.

It came at the end of an all-night meeting, in which Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte (MFK) announced his government’s decision to shut down the operations of the intelligence agency and implement a complete reorganisation under the guidance of a special, independent committee.   He said this was necessary, because the integrity of VDC had been tarnished locally and abroad, while several employees were guilty of dereliction of duty and even unlawful acts. The latter has already led to the filing of several complaints with the Prosecutor’s Office.   Schotte presented the results of a “top secret” investigation and went into the measures his cabinet had taken to restore confidence in VDC. Staff members are suspected of destroying politically sensitive information, making plans to overthrow the government, taking confidential data from the office that later appeared in the media, systematically obstructing efforts to look into excesses at the agency and attempting to discredit management with untruths.   He also revealed that they had broken into the vault and destroyed documents on the screening of Schotte-cabinet members, but also regarding politically-sensitive matters such as the illegal transport of diesel fuel by what was believed to be a family member of former prime minister and current opposition leader Emily de Jongh-Elhage (PAR).   Schotte also illustrated other questionable practices by the then-VNA agency, such as having a special unit monitor a former Lt. Governor (he did not mention any name) for drunkenness. In the last days of the Netherlands Antilles, officials also travelled to St. Maarten to burn the agency’s whole data file on the island, of which no report was made.   The prime minister spoke of unauthorised contact between VDC employees and PAR and said he could not exclude that a lot more confidential information might still come out. This uncertainty and questions being raised both locally and abroad about the agency’s integrity call for drastic action, he explained.   To enable a rigorous reorganisation during the next few months, all personnel have been placed on non-active duty, but remain on call. Schotte signed the corresponding ministerial decree on Friday.   The restructuring will be guided by a special committee consisting of former Prime Minister Maria Liberia Peters, ex-VNA Head Wim Statius Muller and former Antillean Parliament Secretary Carl Gruning. During this period, the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service AIVD will provide technical assistance.   From now on, only those who have undergone a confidence-and-integrity assessment will be allowed to work at VDC.   During the debate that followed Schotte’s introduction, the PAR fraction said the entire problem at VDC had been due to the lack of integrity among his cabinet members and government’s interference as a result. They also blasted the young prime minister for making accusations without presenting proof.   The opposition party said the screening of current ministers was what had gone wrong and challenged government to remove the prohibition to speak from the sidelined VDC Head Edsel Gumbs, just as had been done for the former crisis manager Franklin Calmero.   Schotte had also announced that he would provide more information on the report in a confidential meeting with fraction leaders on Monday. Several coalition members accused PAR of being behind the excesses at VDC, in an attempt to get back in power.   A motion by one-seat opposition party PNP for a parliamentary inquiry into VDC was backed by all fractions but that of PAR. The latter insisted that it was the Schotte cabinet which must be investigated and VDC matters could be part of that.   Employees of the national security outfit LBD went to the home of Gumbs, on Friday. They had instructions to take all documents, but were turned away by Gumbs, who referred to three court rulings that he is still VDC Head, and said the government should contact his lawyer.

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Bron: Dutch Caribbean Legal Portal

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