PHILIPSBURG–In view of the recent developments pertaining to the coronavirus COVID-19 in St. Maarten, attorney-at-law Sjamira Roseburg has addressed Minister of Justice Egbert Doran regarding what measures have been taken to protect detainees at the Philipsburg police station and inmates at the Pointe Blanche prison against contamination with the virus.
“As you know, the prison is overcrowded and a corona outbreak within the prison will cause the entire prison [population – Ed.] to get this virus. We should avoid this and as far as we are asked in the outside world, as much distance as possible should be maintained between the prisoners,” the lawyer wrote in an email message to Minister Doran.
As one of the possible solutions, the lawyer advised placing one person in a cell instead of two. She also recommended early release for prisoners who still have to sit out a short period of their sentence. “The ankle-strap system should also be introduced urgently. This will benefit the prison occupancy,” Roseburg said in her message.
She also suggested that elderly detainees and those with a weak immune system should be examined. “After all, they are more vulnerable. If necessary, they can be detained with an ankle strap at home” and placed under house arrest, Roseburg suggested.
“We must do everything we can to limit the risks as much as possible and, whether we want it or not, the prison poses a great risk,” she stated.
Roseburg said she had understood from the media that a prisoner had been taken to St. Maarten Medical Center with possible coronavirus symptoms. “I would like to receive an update regarding his/her [detention] situation,” Roseburg stated.
She also wanted to know how it is monitored whether coronavirus “phenomena” occur in the prison or the police cells. “We cannot take the risk of this person infecting others. If the detention of this person is over in the short term, it may be advisable to proceed to [early] release,” Roseburg said.
At the moment, detainees are not allowed to receive visitors. Roseburg suggested “immediately” setting up video chats via the Internet “just like in the Netherlands, so that they can at least have some communication with the outside world. Every day I receive calls from various family members in which they indicate that they are concerned about their loved ones and that they do not know whether they are doing well.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/lawyer-advises-on-measures-to-keep-coronavirus-from-detainees