Prison Director Rohan suspects night guards of corruption

PHILIPSBURG – The police found a firearm, countless phones and a selfmade weapon last week in the Point Blanche prison on Sint Maarten. According to the warden, Edward Rohan, it can’t be other than that these things are being smuggled inside by night guards against payment.

Rohan is the warden of Point Blanche, the infamous prison on Sint Maarten, since 2012. He’s been fighting wrongs and corruption since then, but it feels to him like a mission impossible, due to lack of funds and shortage of personnel.

The firearm that was found last week in the Sint Maarten prison – photo: Sint Maarten Prosecutor Office

Visitors innocent
Contrary to what the local media allegates, Rohan doesn’t believe that those who visit the penitentiary have anything to do with the forbidden goods inside. “We haven’t caught any visitor smuggling goods inside for the last two years. The visitors don’t want to risk the possibility to see their loved ones. If they are caught smuggling things inside, the entry is permanently denied to them. We check very well, says the warden emphatically.

However, it was not difficult to get through security with a loaded bag and a cellular phone half an hour before the interview. Whether an exception was made, is not clear. Rohan is surprised, when he sees the phone: “That’s not supposed to be so, you know.” At departure he indicates that the baggage scanner has been defective for weeks and that this is why all checks are done manually. There is no money for repairment or a new one.

The security checkpoint where all is examined by hand because the baggage scanner is out of service – photo: Natasja Gibbs

Organized corruption
The warden is convinced that an organized group of guards is smuggling the articles into the jail by night. “I know for sure that it’s the night shift because there is little surveillance then, there is less security and they do take the risk. It must be a small group, that’s the only explanation I can find for this.”

“The head of the guards mentioned it too; it’s not just one person. Because, when we do cell searches, we don’t find just one, but several phones. And, when we return four weeks later, we find another twenty again. That makes you think: gee – someone is making quite some money here.”

That the situation is untenable, is clear too from the last 24 consecutive devastating reports of the Dutch Visitation Committee.

Untenable situation
The warden thinks that it is impossible to tackle the corruption in the jail workforce because of a chronic shortage of personnel . That the situation is untenable, is clear too from the last 24 consecutive devastating reports of the Dutch Visitation Committee. The committee urges for improvement.

At his appointment a few weeks ago, the new minister of Justice, Rafael Boasman, said that the prison is one of his priorities. Despite repeated requests, the minister did not want to give a reaction.

Source: Caribbean Network