St. Maarten prison motions voted down | THE DAILY HERALD

THE HAGUE–Two green left party GroenLinks motions dealing with the human rights situation and detention circumstances of St. Maarten’s Pointe Blanche prison failed to muster a majority when they came to voting in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday.

The initiator of the two motions, Member of Parliament (MP) Nevin Özütok (GroenLinks), submitted the motions last week during a plenary meeting of parliament seeking to improve the detention circumstances in St. Maarten and to ask the Dutch government not to return any inmates to St. Maarten as long as the human rights standards have not improved at the Pointe Blanche prison.

The first motion called on the Dutch government, together with the St. Maarten government, to improve the detention circumstances in St. Maarten to conform with national and international human rights standards.

The motion stated that the prevention of human rights violations was a matter of the Kingdom and that the Kingdom has the largest administrative capacity to take the initiative to ensure that treaties were lived up to.

Seven opposition parties – the Socialist Party (SP), Labour Party PvdA, GroenLinks, Party for Animals PvdD, the DENK party, Forum for Democracy FvD and the Constitutional Reformed Party SGP – voted in favour of the first motion, along with the coalition parties Democratic Party D66 and the ChristianUnion.

Özütok’s second motion concerned the return of 23 St. Maarten inmates who were transferred to Dutch prisons after Hurricane Irma. The motion called on the Dutch government not to send the inmates back as long as their human rights were not guaranteed. The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security recently advised holding off on the inmates’ return until improvements had been made at the prison.

This motion also failed to receive the necessary support. Only the SP, PvdA, GroenLinks, PvdD, DENK, D66, SGP and ChristianUnion voted in favour. As with the first motion, the ruling liberal democratic VVD party, its coalition partner Christian Democratic Party CDA and the opposition party Party for Freedom PVV voted against.

The Second Chamber unanimously adopted a motion of MP Tjeerd de Groot (D66) and Laura Bromet (GroenLinks) in which the Dutch government is requested to draft an integral rescue plan for the coral reefs in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The motion, presented last week, stated that the underwater nature can be considered the economic engine of the islands. This nature is threatened by several factors, such as the lack of sewage treatment facilities, roaming animals (especially goats) and erosion. All these factors contribute to damage that is caused to the corals. The coral reefs in the sea around are in a relatively healthy state, but the reefs, especially in Bonaire, are suffering.

The motion stated that the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality LNV has the responsibility for the execution of international nature protection treaties for the three islands that are Dutch public entities. The motion also mentioned the findings of the recent Wageningen University Marine Research report which sounded the alarm about the state of Dutch Caribbean nature on land and underwater.

According to the motion, the LNV Ministry should have already drafted a nature policy plan late 2017. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management I&W also has not drafted an environmental plan for the islands.

The motion, which received support from all parties in the Second Chamber, requested that the Dutch government draft an integral rescue plan for the coral reefs surrounding Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba before the end of 2019.

Source: The Daily Herald