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Donated Sint Maarten container cells stand outside the prison wall

Donated Sint Maarten container cells stand outside the prison wall. A year ago, the Netherlands supplied special container cells to St. Maarten to put an end to the degrading situation in the Point Blanche prison. They are still standing outside the wall, unused.
They cannot solve the problems, but they can mitigate them. A year ago, Minister Sander Dekker (Justice and Security) promised Sint Maarten sixteen double container cells to alleviate the greatest need in the controversial Point Blanche prison. He had seen with his own eyes that the complex is not only inhumane for the detainees, but also unsuitable and unsafe as a workplace for the staff.
Of the sixteen containers, only eleven were finally delivered, and they are unemployed outside the wall, the ‘progress committee’, under the leadership of rapporteur Nico Schoof, noted last week. In a report, Schoof will advise the Netherlands and Sint-Maarten to work on the degrading conditions in the complex in the short term. The problem, however, is that the government of St. Maarten fell again last year and nothing happens on the island without a minister of justice.
Point Blanche prison
Donated Sint Maarten container cells stand outside the prison wall

Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited St. Maarten last year to see the reconstruction. ANP image
A year ago, the Netherlands supplied special container cells to St. Maarten to put an end to the degrading situation in the Point Blanche prison. They are still standing outside the wall, unused.

Hans MarijnissenFebruary 4, 2020 , 12:00 PM
They cannot solve the problems, but they can mitigate them. A year ago, Minister Sander Dekker (Justice and Security) promised Sint Maarten sixteen double container cells to alleviate the greatest need in the controversial Point Blanche prison. He had seen with his own eyes that the complex is not only inhumane for the detainees, but also unsuitable and unsafe as a workplace for the staff.

Of the sixteen containers, only eleven were finally delivered, and they are unemployed outside the wall, the ‘progress committee’, under the leadership of rapporteur Nico Schoof, noted last week. In a report, Schoof will advise the Netherlands and Sint-Maarten to work on the degrading conditions in the complex in the short term. The problem, however, is that the government of St. Maarten fell again last year and nothing happens on the island without a minister of justice.

The container cells at the Point Blanche prison. Image DJI / Rijksoverheid.nl
There is a ‘threatening atmosphere’
The committee investigated both the functioning of the police and the prison system on St Maarten. The police force is growing in quality and capacity, Schoof says. But that does not apply to the detention facilities. The biggest problem with the prison on St Maarten is the shortage of cells. Since the number of prisoners per cell was reduced from 3 to 2 in 2017, the number of places has been reduced from 120 to 80. The 40 remaining cells are under serious maintenance. Of the 100 employees, only 50 are available, the rest are sick at home. As a result, there can be no question of day spending and resocialization processes, but there is also a ‘threatening atmosphere’ in prison, according to the committee.

In the meantime the Netherlands has ‘taken over’ twenty detainees from St Maarten for a fee and eight men are also detained in Curaçao who should have been in the Point Blanche prison. But then dozens of criminals are still free on the island who should have served their sentence, but there is simply no room for justice.

According to the committee, the problem with container cells is that nobody feels responsible. They have to be huddled over the wall and connected for water and electricity, but that requires an investment. The new prime minister of Sint-Maarten Silveria Jacobs is, according to the committee, interested in the issue, but it is not possible as long as there is no minister of justice. The Netherlands, in turn, keeps their arms crossed until consultations can be held with a real cabinet on St Maarten.

Human rights at stake
According to the Schoof committee, the problems in the detention system are not only of a physical nature. The probation service must also be rigged up, and prevention projects that actually prevent crime. Dutch politicians have often called for a ‘task force’ or a program manager who will put things in order, but concrete steps have not been taken so far. This may change if a committee of the European Court visits the detention complex this year to determine whether human rights are at stake. A critical report does not force measures, but it does create political pressure.

According to The Council for the Judiciary that visited Sint-Maarten earlier, the island should actually be given a whole new prison, with well-trained staff, and perhaps under Dutch authority. But that’s where the shoe pinches. St Maarten is an autonomous country within the kingdom, and the Netherlands believes it is responsible. The Council, on the other hand, states that if the human rights of the detainees are at stake and the safety of the citizens on the island, the Netherlands has a duty to help. That would be the case here.
https://www.trouw.nl/nieuws/gedoneerde-containercellen-sint-maarten-staan-buiten-de-gevangenismuur~ba9ff99d/

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