PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance of St. Maarten ordered the immediate release of a nineteen-year-old man of Guyanese descent. His attorney Remco Stomp had filed an injunction and requested the immediate release of his client, stating that the detention and treatment of his client was not according to the laws of the land.
Last week Wednesday, the Court ruled that the detention of the undocumented youth was illegal for various reasons.
The Court ruled that the Minister of Justice could not automatically lock up people merely because they were undocumented. In addition, the Court stated that detaining an undocumented person was the most severe measure available to the Minister.
This measure should only be applied if the person were likely to evade possible expulsion by the authorities and is only acceptable if there are no other measures left to ensure a person remains available to the authorities.
The Court ruled that even if detention is justified, the Minister is still obligated to take all measures and deal with all procedures in a timely manner, for the individual not to remain in detention for a longer time than is deemed reasonably acceptable.
The Court ruled that the detention of the young man, who came to the island when he was seven years old, was disproportionate, and that the Minister had not acted as prescribed by law.
The young man concerned did not live the life of a typical undocumented immigrant. He lived with his family at a legal and fixed address, attended primary and secondary school here, and was in possession of valid residence permits since June 2010. He does not have any close relatives in Guyana anymore.
In May 2016, the young man applied for renewal of his permit. The request was turned down, because in December 2016 he was sentenced by the Court to 38 months, 10 of which were suspended for armed robbery committed on May 16, 2016.
Based on Parole Board advice and a ministerial decision of November 23, 2017, the young man was conditionally released on December 27, 2017.
That same day, the Minister stated that the young man posed a danger to public order, because he had committed a crime and was staying on the island illegally. On these grounds, and because the Court had considered him a repeat offender, the Minister turned down the request for renewal of a residency permit.
Locking his client up under these circumstances was a bridge too far, Stomp explained. “Locking him up at the Police Station under very harsh circumstances for a prolonged period is simply unlawful,” Stomp said, who demanded his client’s immediate release.
The Judge ruled accordingly, and stated that the Guyanese man may not be expelled from St. Maarten until six weeks after the Minister has made a new decision on the request for a permit.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72586-court-orders-release-undocumented-youth