THE HAGUE–A proposal will be drafted shortly to prolong the Plans of Approach for the St. Maarten Police Force and the Pointe Blanche Prison by Royal Decree.
Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk announced, in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday, that he planned to submit a draft for a Royal Decree to prolong the General Measure of the Kingdom Government (“Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur”) AMvRB to the Kingdom Council of Ministers within short.
It concerns a prolongation of the AMvRB which regulates the cooperation with St. Maarten to safeguard the Plans of Approach national tasks of Curaçao and St. Maarten. This agreement stems from 2010, when Curaçao and St. Maarten attained country status, but at which time a number of national tasks, mainly in the area of justice, needed strong improvement.
The Plans of Approach for two areas in the St. Maarten justice sector: the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM and the Pointe Blanche Prison; so far have not been successfully concluded and will not be completed before the term of the 2010 AMvRB for the Plans of Approach lapses in October 2016.
The Progress Committee that monitors the Plans of Approach advised against the prolonging of the AMvRB that secured the Plans of Approach. The Committee noted, in a recent report, that progress on important parts had “stagnated for a long while” and that the exercise of completing the Plans of Approach was “not very meaningful.”
The Progress Committee changed its mind as a result of the positive outcome of a conference that was held in St. Maarten on April 11 and 12, 2016, to discuss the further development of the KPSM and the Prison.
A broad range of participants attended the conference: KPSM and prison staffers, the St. Maarten Ministry of Justice, members of the Dutch Royal Marechaussee, representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, and the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. Also present were the chairman and secretary of the Progress Committee.
According to Minister Plasterk, the conference resulted in taking the first steps towards preparing a paper for the St. Maarten Government that includes concrete actions to achieve improvement at the KPSM and prison, which in turn should result in a successful completion of the Plans of Approach. Plasterk stated that the atmosphere during the talks was positive.
The Minister stated that he was engaged in talks with the St. Maarten Government to “ensure” that the conference results within short will get “adequate political follow-up.” He added that at this moment Philipsburg was working on this (political) process.
St. Maarten is primarily responsible, stated Plasterk; however, the Dutch Government will surely “lend a helping hand if serious work is made of the proposed approach.” The concrete content of that assistance will depend on St. Maarten’s necessities, the sustainability of the requested assistance, the available financial means and the room on the Dutch side.
Satisfied with the results of the conference, the Progress Committee has indicated that it is most willing to continue its work “if the circumstances can be turned around in the positive sense,” stated Plasterk. “Without that, the prolongation and continuation of the current work method makes no sense, according to the Committee.”
It is with this positive reaction and the inspiring results of the conference in mind that it was decided to seek a prolongation of the AMvRB for the Plans of Approach.
Member of the Second Chamber André Bosman, of the ruling liberal democratic VVD party, was content with Plasterk’s announcement to prolong the AMvRB in question. The VVD is against ceasing the Plans of Approach ahead of their completion, especially for the St. Maarten Police Force and Prison, which are not yet up to par, Bosman stated during a debate with the Minister in February this year.
“There is no reason for the VVD to stop with the Plans of Approach which haven’t complied with the requirements as yet. It should be a sign that the Country St. Maarten is unable to strengthen its police force. The agreements are clear to which the VVD will keep the Minister. I expect the Minister to also keep St. Maarten to those agreements,” said Bosman during that debate.
Bosman submitted a number of written questions to Plasterk on Thursday, regarding the poor state of the prisons in Curaçao and St. Maarten. Bosman sought clarity following a May 5, 2016, item on NTR Caribbean Network which cited an evaluation report of the Netherlands Antilles Security Programme. The evaluation of this programme to improve the detention facilities on the islands, which ran between 2005 and 2014, was carried out on behalf of the BZK Ministry, which invested 206 million euros in the programme.
According to the evaluation report, the prisons in Curaçao and St. Maarten were still in bad shape after the completion of the programme. The prisons are marred by violence, a lack of detention capacity, shortage of personnel and poor facilities.
Bosman referred to the report’s findings that the prisons are still not complying with the requirements of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment CPT. He asked the Minister whether he agreed with the report’s findings that it was almost impossible for the prisons to comply with the CPT requirements on their own.
“What role do you see for the Dutch Kingdom? Do you recognise the situation described in the report? To what extent does the actual situation at the Curaçao and St. Maarten prisons relate to the evaluation report,” asked Bosman.
Source: Daily Herald
Proposal to extend Plans of Approach St. Maarten