photo: Caribbean Network

KRALENDIJK – The legal code for Criminal Justice BES has had statutes for detention under hospital orders (tbs) since 2010 but the special municipalities of the Netherlands are not able to provide treatments due to lack of available services.

“Old statutes are still in effect on the BES islands”, confirms Suliën Zimmerman from the Public Prosecution Service Bonaire, Statia, and Saba (BES). “The Court cannot hand down a judgment with a detention under hospital order, like the courts in Auba and Curaçao can. We cannot even speak of a (forensic) treatment, like the ones in the Netherlands.”

Sent to Curaçao
In the event that a convicted criminal is determined to be wholly unfit, the judge can decide to send them to the Capriles Kliniek in Curaçao or to the FOBA-department of the prison in Curaçao, Zimmerman says. There are no forensic clinics on Bonaire, Statia, or Saba.

Nevertheless FOBA-psychiatrist Frans Heijtel, who practices twice a month on Bonaire, says that the treatment of (former) detainees with a psychological problem is better on Bonaire than on Curaçao and Aruba. He mentions Mental Health Caribbean as an example. This facility, in conjunction with the Dutch Caribbean Probation Service, provides forensic mental healthcare to clients who are detained and who are about to be released.

‘Copying detention under hospital order treatments from the Netherlands won’t work, it needs to fit a small community’
– professor Frans Koenraadt

Frans Koenraadt also agrees with this. He is a professor of forensic psychology affiliated with amongst others the University of Curaçao. “The outpatient treatment of people with psychiatric problem on Bonaire should be an example for the other islands”, says Koenraadt. “Especially the transition from the old prison to the new prison, it’s a major difference.”

According to Koenraadt there’s a big contrast between the situation on Bonaire and that on Curaçao, Aruba, and Sint Maarten. “They have invested in people and schooling on Bonaire and that’s important. Mental House Caribbean is a useful business which has proven itself on Bonaire. The manner in which the clinical treatment has been set up is itself a major improvement. Simply copying the detention under hospital order treatments from the Netherlands won’t work. It needs to fit the community and that is happening on Bonaire.”

Prison on Bonaire. Archival picture: Belkis Osepa

“We’re working on a small number of detached clinical spaces in the prison on Bonaire”, says Nancy Eelman of the Dutch Caribbean Prosecution Service. “Currently we mostly use the services of Mental Health Caribbean, who provides outpatient treatments for individuals with addiction problems, psychiatric problems, or a combination of both.”

‘On the BES islands there wouldn’t be more than 5 detention under hospital order clients per year’
– Nancy Eelman, Dutch Caribbean Prosecution Service

Would the BES islands benefit from the possibility of detention under hospital order treatments? “Every adequate forensic treatment is definitely a supplement to the existing supply”, according to Eelman. “One big advantage of detention under hospital order is that it is an extendable measure.  As a footnote it should be mentioned that there would be a very limited number of cases where detention under hospital order would be applied on the BES islands, no more than 5 cases per year.”

Marlies van der Kouwe murder

Even though the amount of cases would be minimal, it has gone horribly wrong before on Bonaire, as with the Marlies van der Kouwe murder in 2008. She was interning on the island and was raped and murdered by Ryan F., who had been convicted of several sexual offences on Curaçao and Bonaire and had just been released from prison at the time.

Few possibilities for prevention or aftercare
“There’s a residential facility on Bonaire for individuals with psychiatric and addiction problems. Additionally we utilize (forensic) chaperoned living on Bonaire”, says Eelman. “However this is not a form of treatment but more a manner in which to learn practical skills. There are also few opportunities for the Prosecution Service within the Civil code to act preventatively or end a detention under hospital order measure afterwards.”

KIA prison on Aruba. Archival picture: Jackeliene Geeve

KIA prison on Aruba. Archival picture: Jackeliene Geeve

Detention under hospital order a problem for all the islands in the Kingdom

The possibility to hand down a detention under hospital order judgement exists on both Aruba and Curaçao however Aruba cannot carry out this sentence because they simply do not have a treatment clinic.

On Curaçao parts of the detention under hospital order measures can be carried in the overcrowded prison but aftercare is lacking.

Sint Maarten has yet to implement the detention under hospital order measure and there is no specific treatment for detainees with psychiatric problems, confirms the Public Prosecution Service in Sint Maarten.