By Rene Zwart©
The Hague – The Committee, set up by the Council of Ministers to supervise the implementation of the improvement plan for the prison on Sint Maarten since 2010, has raised the alarm. The Committee finds the situation ‘untenable’ and finds that the government of the island is not able to achieve significant improvement. The committee therefore argues for ‘massive support’ from the Netherlands.
“The situation is downright negative. No progress can be detected, and the prospect of improvement only exists in theory. The theory, however, has the character of a mirage: the image is there, but it has no content”, according to the Committee which calls the security situation in prison “without prejudice very dangerous” and speaks of a ‘hopeless situation’. Incidentally, this is not only the result of the damage inflicted by hurricane Irma. The situation of Point Blanche prison has been characterized as being inhumane since 2010.
The Committee fears for the near future if (on August 1,2018 the secondment of extra security guards from the Netherlands and the imminent return of detainees temporarily place in Curaçao and the Netherlands will come to an end. The Committee points to another danger: “There is a high risk that the judiciary or the Public Prosecution Service will no longer refer convicts to the Point Blanche. In the absence of a functioning juvenile detention, juvenile suspects of a serious crime have already been sent away. Time passes, and the problems only become more acute. ”
The Government wants to build a new prison but has no budget for it. With only new construction, the problems are not solved. The Committee believes that a completely new detention system must be put in place. “An integrated approach (prevention, juvenile detention, rehabilitation, probation, alternative punishment) is necessary to significantly reduce recidivism and prevent an even larger prison from being built.”
The Committee does not consider Sint Maarten capable of doing so. “The lack of knowledge, work capacity and financial resources makes structurally tackling the detention problem an impossible task. The Committee believes a massive support from the Netherlands is necessary to ensure the humane detention of detainees. Possible forms of cooperation with the Netherlands and France must be investigated. ”
Secretary of State for Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops has forwarded the alarming findings of the Committee to the Second Chamber without going into the content.