Lawyer accuses Prosecutor of detaining minor unlawfully

PHILIPSBURG–Attorney-at-Law Sjamira Roseburg is accusing the Prosecutor of unlawfully detaining a fourteen-year-old boy for four days in an adult jail. The minor got in trouble with the law during a school fight last week, was arrested by police on Thursday and placed in jail instead of a youth detention facility.

Roseburg is worried about the psychological effects the detention can have on the boy, who just turned 14. “If a minor has to be detained, he or she has to be incarcerated in a juvenile prison. It is unbelievable that a minor of 14 years old is being incarcerated, no matter the kind of crime, and is surrounded by adults,” she told The Daily Herald on Monday.
“The rights of the minor are being violated as of Thursday, the day he has been detained at the police cells of Philipsburg. International treaties are clear; they state that the detention of a minor has to be the last course ‘ultimum remedium.’ The Council of Ministers of the European Union stated that minors (under 18 years) cannot be incarcerated at the police station/prison for adults.
“If they do so still, then the rights of the minors have to be guaranteed. Here in St. Maarten that’s not the case. We cannot hide behind the fact that there was a hurricane called Irma and that there is no other place to put the minor. We still have a Court of Guardianship that can play a role in this matter and make sure other options can be found,” pleaded the attorney.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in article 37: “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
“Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults.”
Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Norman Serphos said the youngster is in a cell alone and has not been placed with adults at any time.
“We know the law, and if we place him with adults, it would be against the law. The investigating Judge said that the case the minor is involved with is too important to allow him to go home,” stated Serphos on Monday.
Attorney Roseburg said she had had a conversation with her client on Monday and he had informed her that he was in a cell with 11 adults. “The minor in this case is detained at the police station surrounded by adults. The fact that he is alone in his cell doesn’t make it different. The psychological affects, being detained surrounded by adults, have to be taken in consideration.
The youngster will appear in front of the investigative judge today, Tuesday, and Roseburg intends to again request his temporary release until a suitable location can be secured for him. Miss Lalie Youth Detention Facility was severely damaged during the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and is presently out of commission.

Source: The Daily Herald