SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On October 28, 2020 Members of Parliament of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) Akeem Arrindell and Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper sent a letter via email to the chairman of the Dutch Permanent Committee of Kingdom Relations, Mr. Jan Paternotte in regards to the (re) building of the Point Blanche Prison.
The letter resulted from a press release on koninkrijk.nu which stated that “the Permanent Committee of Kingdom Affairs will be discussing the troubling humanitarian situation at the Point Blanche Prison” on Friday, October 30, 2020.
In their letter the MP’s stated that this is a problem which has remained unresolved for quite some time which seems to have no proper solution in the foreseeable future. The MP’s submitted two proposals to the Chairman of the Permanent Committee of Kingdom Relations, with the expectation to see the (re) building of the Point Blanche Prison become a reality.
In their first proposal the MP’s recommended 1) That a project management team be established by the Dutch Government to oversee the planning and building of the prison. 2) That the project team be placed under the auspices of the BZK ministry in the Netherlands and, by extension, the Dutch representative in St. Maarten. And 3) That the funding be taken from the unallocated Trust Fund monies made available to St. Maarten.
The MP’s admitted that it can be argued that the present state of the Point Blanche Prison is not a direct result of Hurricane Irma, which ravaged the island in September 2017, and noted that the same can be said about the sanitary landfill on Pond Island, for which 25 million dollars had been made available in phase 1 and another 35 million dollars in phase 2 for the rehabilitation and closing of the landfill. The USP MP’s questioned the rationale to decide to fix the landfill instead of the prison.
In their second proposal, MP Arrindell and MP Buncamper suggested 1) Collaboration with the Minister of Justice of St. Maarten, Anna Richardson, and her team from the UNOPS to rehabilitate the prison, bringing it to an acceptable standard, or construct a new prison. 2) That the project team be placed under the auspices of the BZK ministry in the Netherlands and, by extension, the Dutch representative in St. Maarten. And that the Ministry of Justice of St. Maarten appoints a representative to form part of the project team. And 3) That the funding be taken from the unallocated Trust Fund monies that were made available to St. Maarten.
The MP’s noted that the St. Maarten government is being supported by UNOPS in preparing the plans for the prison, which is exactly what the Dutch Government had been advocating.
The MP’s believe that any one of the proposals will be beneficial to St. Maarten, and hope that we can start moving forward in getting the Point Blanche Prison up to par so that the human rights and the conditions of the inmates are no less than the acceptable standards required by the Kingdom.
MP Akeem Arrindell