St: Maarten: Tribunal Decision On Attack Against Two Gay Tourists

On April 13, US tourists Richard Jefferson and Ryan Smith and a friend were severely beaten by a group of men in St. Maarten, after being verbally harassed by the attackers in a bar. Three citizens of the French part of the island - Glen Cockly, Micheline Delaney and Allan Daniel - and a man from the nearby French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Michel Javois, were found guilty of public violence and causing grievous bodily harm. Judge Jan Bosch determined that Javois attacked the Americans with a tire iron as they left a bar with friends on April 6 while vacationing in St. Maarten. Judge Bosch also decided the cause of the attack was discrimination - - a hate crime - - not based on any rational reason Javois received a six-year prison sentence, while Cockly and Daniel got three-year terms. Delaney, who was accused of kicking one of the victims while he was on the ground, will spend six months in prison. We hope that this regrettable incident together with Judge Bosch sentence might help St. Maarten society to enter a productive debate on how to live with the diversity of sexual and affectionate expressions that are found in all human communities. We should also remember how local authorities were not very responsive at first, greeting the victims with the same contempt as the attackers. The authorities can –and must- contribute to provide spaces and frameworks for that debate, highlighting those values that are enshrined in human rights documents to which St. Maarten local laws are bound, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which affirm that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. To be entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law..

Background

Please check our May 18th, 2006 Action Alert for more details on previous incidents: DEMAND PROMPT AND FAIR INVESTIGATION OF ATTACK AGAINST TWO GAY TOURISTS IN ST. MAARTEN

International legislation

St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and thus, international human rights treaties ratified by the Netherlands apply. The right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law is protected by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR - Articles 2 and 7) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR -Articles 2 and 26). The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The right to Freedom of Expression is protected by the UDHR (Article 19) and the ICCPR. The Right to Effective Remedy/Compensation for acts violating the fundamental rights of a person is protected by the UDHR (Article 8). The Netherlands ratified ICCPR on March 11, 1979. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like The Netherlands.