st maarten news

Parliament requests reports on Pointe Blanche prison

THE HAGUE–Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and the Law Enforcement Council will be asked to provide an overview of the recommendations that have been made in the past years regarding the Pointe Blanche prison in St. Maarten.

The reviews are being requested by the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations on the initiative of Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Chris van Dam of the Christian Democratic Party CDA. The overviews are in anticipation of a debate about law enforcement on March 24.

The committee took the decision on Friday and on that same day sent a letter to Knops requesting that he submit an overview with the advices and conclusions of the St. Maarten Progress Committee of at least the past five years regarding the St. Maarten prison.

Knops was also asked to send the most recent review report of the St. Maarten Progress Committee to the Second Chamber. The Progress Committee regularly reports to the Minister about the status of affairs on law enforcement and the progress, or lack thereof, of this sector in St. Maarten since 2010.

Knops has been asked to comply with the request before March 20, in time for the March 24 general debate in the Second Chamber about law enforcement in the Dutch Caribbean, with focus on St. Maarten. Present at that debate will be Knops, as well as Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus and Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker.

The Second Chamber has also requested that the Law Enforcement Council submit before March 24 a short report containing an overview of its recommendations regarding the Pointe Blanche prison of the past years, with a minimum of five years. The Council has voiced its concern about the developments at the prison in several reports in the past years.

Van Dam’s request was supported by the liberal democrats VVD, the Democratic Party D66, the green left party GroenLinks, the Socialist Party (SP), the Labour Party PvdA, the ChristianUnion, the party for seniors 50PLUS and the orthodox Protestant-Christian party SGP. As such, Van Dam’s request received a broad support of the parties represented in the Second Chamber.

Van Dam said he has been very worried about the situation at the Pointe Blanche prison for a while. “The circumstances in the prison, both for the inmates and the personnel, remain unacceptable. The requested reports should give an indication of what has evolved in the past years. I want to discuss the contents with the government as soon as possible,” he told The Daily Herald on Friday.

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