St. Maarten prison action plan required

THE HAGUE–The prolongation of the deployment of Dutch personnel at St. Maarten’s Pointe Blanche Prison up to August 1, is tied to a strict condition: the drafting of an action plan in the short term.

The action plan needs to aim at sustainable improvements in the near future at the prison, including the “unavoidable measures” on the level of personnel, stated Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops in a letter that was sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday.
Knops, who visited the three Windward Islands together with his colleague, Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus from April 29 to May 3, confirmed that the assistance by personnel of the Dutch Government Justice Institutions Service DJI to run the Pointe Blanche prison has been extended to August 1.
It has been agreed that St. Maarten will draft the action plan for the prison with the help of experts of DJI, financed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK. Dutch prison personnel, but also Dutch police officers have been working in St. Maarten since Hurricane Irma battered the island early September last year.
Minister Grapperhaus visited the prison during his visit on May 2. He was able to see for himself that the damage to the prison building was still very extensive and that “there was a long road ahead before an acceptable level is once more achieved,” stated Knops, who also wrote the letter to Parliament on Grapperhaus’ behalf.
Grapperhaus also visited the Philipsburg police station where he met not only with management, but also with members of the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM. The Minister concluded that the personnel assistance that the Dutch National Police has been providing to the KPSM since the hurricane, has a “broad social support.” “The inter-collegial relations are very good as well. The contribution of the National Police has proven its added value,” Knops stated.
The Justice Minister also visited the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard and the Alpha Team, a multi-discipline unit in which all law enforcement services involved in border control work together. Border control, which is being reinforced during the reconstruction phase, was one of the conditions of the Dutch Government to establish the St. Maarten Trust Fund to rebuild the island.
In his letter to Parliament, the State Secretary also mentioned the lengthy meeting that took place with the St. Maarten Council of Ministers on May 2. “The practical execution of the strengthened border control and the establishing of the Integrity Chamber is taking place, despite the slow progress of the cabinet’s formation.”
The start of the reconstruction efforts under the World Bank, which manages the Trust Fund, is progressing as well, stated Knops, who did note that things would move faster with a new, elected St. Maarten Government in place.
Knops will be back in St. Maarten this Monday, together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. During this visit too, there will be a meeting with the Council of Ministers and members of law enforcement departments. Rutte and Knops will visit St. Eustatius and Saba on Sunday.

Source: The Daily Herald