Minister wants law to permit DNA testing of islands’ convicted felons | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–The retrieval of cell material from convicted criminals from Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba for DNA investigation will become possible in the future once legislation has been implemented.

Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday of his intention to prepare a DNA investigation law for the Caribbean Netherlands, similar to the one that already exists in the Netherlands.

“I see the importance of implementing this law for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, considering that the DNA investigation of convicted felons has proven an important means to detect criminal offences,” stated Grapperhaus, who promised to consult with the islands to see whether it is desirable and feasible to introduce this law.

Currently, there is no legal basis to retrieve cell material for DNA investigations of convicted felons in the Caribbean Netherlands. At the time of the new constitutional status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as Dutch public entities in October 2010, the lawmakers consciously chose to keep the Netherlands Antilles legislation as much as possible so as not to overburden the islands with the introduction of Dutch legislation.

As a result, the Caribbean Netherlands Penal Code was based on the Netherlands Antilles Penal Code. Both Codes offer the possibility to collect cell material for DNA investigation, but only from suspects, not from persons who have already been convicted.

In his letter to the Second Chamber, Grapperhaus also addressed the detention capacity at the new penitentiary facility in Bonaire JICN, the sole judicial institution of the Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The new prison, which is almost ready to be put into operation, has a capacity of 113 detention spaces and 10 spaces for persons arrested by the police. The current prison, which will soon be out of commission, has space for 112 detainees, only one less than in the new facility. In May 2018, the prison held a total of 104 detainees and two arrested persons.

According to Grapperhaus, the pressure on the JICN detention capacity has increased since late 2016. “An increase in the number of long-term inmates and suspects of severe crimes can be observed from the inflow of the past years. Especially the inflow of convicted felons with a net stay of 2-10 years and more than 10 years show growth,” he stated.

An assessment was carried out late 2017 to see whether the high occupancy was incidental or structural and what the future needs were regarding detention capacity in the Caribbean Netherlands. The assessment indicated a further increase of the need for detention capacity in the coming years.

Several scenarios are being worked out currently to cope with this growing need for capacity, including more focus on the prevention of repeat crime, applying conditional sentences and the possibilities of supervision and treatment.

The Second Chamber will have a debate with Grapperhaus next week Thursday about the law enforcement sector in the Caribbean Netherlands. Also present at this debate of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Justice and Security will be State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops.

Source: The Daily Herald