PHILIPSBURG–The Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday that human rights are not being violated in the holding cells of the Philipsburg police station. The statements of the Prosecutor’s Office are in response to Thursday’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which declared the detention of a detainee at the Philipsburg police station unlawful.
“Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) again ordered an interim measure for a suspect being held in pre-trial detention in the Philipsburg cells. This is being wrongly interpreted, by various media outlets, to imply that the ECHR has established that human rights have been violated. The Public Prosecutor’s Office would like to emphasise that this is not the case,” said the Prosecutor’s Office in a press release on Monday.
Instead, the Prosecutor’s Office emphasises that it is “an interim measure designed to prevent human rights from being violated” and as such “there is no violation of human rights established as yet.”
The ECHR ruled on Thursday in the case of A.N.J., who was arrested on December 6, 2019. The ECHR declared J.’s detention as unlawful and he was subsequently moved from the Philipsburg police station to the Pointe Blanche prison.
This is a different type of ruling than in the case of Italy-born casino boss Francesco Corallo in 2018, said the Prosecutor’s Office.
“In the case initiated by F. Corallo, the ECHR had ruled that his human rights were violated based on the circumstances in the cells in the Philipsburg police station at that time (2018),” said the Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the police cells have undergone several improvements since then. However, the Prosecutor’s Office did admit that the improvements are “not yet at the level that all involved would like to see them.”
“In any case, there have been improvements since the time of Corallo’s detention. As a result, the ECHR’s verdict cannot be interpreted as a ruling on a violation of human rights,” said the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Prosecutor’s Office also said the ECHR’s interim measure does not concern the detention conditions in the Pointe Blanche prison. “The suggestion that the Public Prosecutor’s Office of St. Maarten would provoke the interim injunction of the European Court is untrue. The Public Prosecutor’s Office weighs the options in all cases in which a suspect should remain in pre-trial detention in the Philipsburg cells for more than 10 days.
“This is whether the suspect can be released (whether or not by suspending pre-
trial detention), or whether space can be created in the Pointe Blanche prison by terminating or suspending the pre-trial detention of a suspect who has been detained in the Pointe Blanche prison or by recommending a convict for early release,” said the Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, early release of convicted persons is an exclusive decision of the Justice Minister. “If both options are not possible, the Chief Public Prosecutor of St. Maarten will consider whether the detention in the Philipsburg cells can continue.
“The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General will be informed and the cases in which such an assessment takes place will also be published on the website of the Public Prosecutor’s Office St. Maarten,” said the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Prosecutor’s Office also said that there have been two separate cases in which two suspects have spent more than 10 days in the Philipsburg police station’s holding cells thus far in 2020. Today, Tuesday, February 11, is the 42nd day of 2020.