The Dutch government has taken control of the tiny Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius after a committee of inquiry discovered massive financial misappropriation and abuse by its governing council.
The governing body of the 8.1 square mile island – a special municipality of the Netherlands – has been dissolved and its deputies and acting lieutenant governor sacked, regional news portal Caribbean360 quotes the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.
The State Secretary for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Raymond Knops, who announced the decision on Monday said concerns were raised on how the island was governed, and that led to the investigation. He added that a government commissioner will be appointed to be in charge of administration until the next election for a new island council.
Caribbean360 cited portions of the report that says: “there were also signs of discrimination, intimidation, threats and insults, and the pursuit of personal power at the expense of the inhabitants … Citizens and entrepreneurs experience legal inequality. No administration is in order and the island is neglected in a physical sense”.
“Since other measures have not brought the island council to repentance, there is only one thing left to do: governing intervention. It is the harshest measure, but now that everything else has failed, it is the only possibility that remains … The people of St Eustatius deserve better,” says Knops.
The island popular referred to as Statia has a population of 3,877 as at 2016. It is located in the northern Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands. Formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Eustatius became a special municipality within The Netherlands in 2010.
English is widely spoken on the island even though the official language is Dutch. Education is solely in English.