photo: Natasja Gibbs

HILVERSUM – According to VVD-Kamerlid André Bosman, his party which is the governing party in the Netherlands, has ordered St. Maarten to carry out all necessary steps to restore the Point Blanche prison. Socialist Party (SP) Kamerlid Ronald van Raak shares the same opinion.

Prison Director Edward Rohan made an alarming assertion this week, where he said a prison escape or riot could be simple. He also accused a group of night guards of corruption. He said he cannot tackle corruption with a “chronic staff shortage”.

SP would like the VVD to intervene, but “mainly by contributing.” Both parties have submitted inquires on the matter to Minister of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

The coalition partner, PvdA, made it known that they “do not want to comment” on the matter. Also, Ronald Plasterk, the responsible Minister of Kingdom Relations, announced that he would not be available for comment this week.

The Netherlands is also responsible
This worrisome situation at St. Maarten’s Point Blanche prison is not new. A Dutch Progress Committee visits the island every three months to monitor developments; “developments are scarce,” said Committee Chairman Nico Schoof. He and his committee members are deeply concerned about safety in the prison.

Unlike the opinion of the VVD, the Progress Committee said St. Maarten is not only to blame for the failure of the prison; “St. Maarten is responsible, but the Netherlands should give additional substantial support. The job is too big for St. Maarten to tackle alone. We have stated this several times to the Dutch government, but we are not being heard.”

Human rights violations
The Socialist Party also finds the situation “very worrying” and urged in a written statement to parliament that the Netherlands take up its responsibility.

SP-MP Ronald van Raak refered to Article 43 of the Charter for the Dutch Kingdom, wherein it states that the island must ensure proper monitoring of good governance and human rights, but also that the Netherlands has its responsibility. “Securing these rights is also the responsibility of the Netherlands, therefore the Netherlands cannot just pass the buck to St. Maarten.”

Justice Department strategy
St. Maarten’s new Justice Minister Rafael Boasman, announced during last Wednesday’s press conference that he intends to submit a plan for the prison to the Council of Ministers. According to the Progress Committee an action plan has already been laid out and is sitting on the desks of the Justice Ministry since last April; “Until now nothing has been done with it.”