Minister Dekker visits Point Blanche prison on Sint Maarten
Yesterday, Minister Dekker (Legal Protection) and State Secretary Knops (Kingdom Relations) visited a number of detention facilities on Sint Maarten. Stops on the itinerary of the delegation, which was accompanied by Sint Maarten's Minister of Justice De Weever, included the police cells on the island and Point Blanche prison. Since the passage of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, many buildings or building sections have fallen into disuse. The aim of the visit was to witness the progress of reconstruction.
‘It was helpful to see the state of the island's detention facilities with my own eyes. In some places it was not too bad, but in others there is still a large amount of work to be done. In particular, we need to recruit and train many new members of staff to return the prison to full operational capacity,’
To increase the detention capacity in the short term, Minister Dekker has offered to transfer cell containers from Bonaire. Until recently, these containers served as temporary detention facilities on Bonaire. Now that the new prison on that island is operational, the containers are no longer needed. The government of Sint Maarten will investigate whether the containers can be used on the island and whether there is an appropriate location to put them. Minister Dekker stressed that this would be a temporary expansion of capacity by 32 places and that the priority would remain the reconstruction of Point Blanche prison.
Aside from the detention facilities for adults, Minister Dekker also visited a juvenile detention centre. This Miss Lalie Center has been out of use since the passage of Hurricane Irma as well, so there is currently no facility on the island for detaining young people. This undesirable situation will come to an end this summer, by which time the improvements made to the Center will be such that it is expected to be able to hold juvenile delinquents again.