photo: Tim van Dijk

PHILIPSBURG – Sint Maarten’s minister of Justice, Cornelius de Weever has reached an agreement with the Dutch minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, to ship sixteen container-cell units from Bonaire to Sint Maarten.

After hurricane Irma half of the cells in the prison were no longer usable. Since then, dozens of detainees have been housed in the Netherlands.

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By Tim van Dijk

Minister De Weever says that he is in talks with architects and contractors for the realization of a new prison. The minister hopes to open a new detention facility on the same spot as the current one within three to five years.

No funds from the Netherlands
The new building will have to meet strict standards and house between 100 and 125 inmates. Sint Maarten will have to pay for this new prison itself. It will not be paid for with the recovery funds financed by the World Bank. The Netherlands will only provide Sint Maarten with technical support. However there’s no room on Sint Maarten’s budget in the upcoming years to pay for such a prison.

Besides the defective building, the prison is woefully understaffed. The 32nd report of Sint Maarten’s progress commission reports that a new low has been reached and that the government of Sint Maarten and the Netherlands aren’t working together to find a solution for the problems.

Delegation from the Hague
Weever hosted a delegation from the Hague, including minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker and state secretary of Kingdom Affairs, Raymond Knops, on Sint Maarten this week. The delegation is visiting the detention facilities on Sint Maarten, Saba, and Statia. All of these facilities sustained damage during hurricane Irma in 2017.

After being hurricane proofed the sixteen containers will be integrated into the grounds at Point Blanche. Juvenile delinquents are being sent home at the moment because the prison is full. The expectation is that juvenile delinquents will be placed at the Miss Lalie Center starting this summer.

Minister Dekker visits Point Blanche prison. Picture: Tim van Dijk