Published On: Mon, Sep 27th, 2021

Progress Committee appreciates Minister Richardson’s trip to the Netherlands

PHILIPSBURG — Between September 20 and 23 Minister Anna Richardson (Justice) visited several judicial institutions in the Netherlands and she also met with State Secretary Raymond Knops and the mayor, police chief and public prosecutor in the municipality of Leiden.

Part of the trip was inspired by recommendations from the Progress Committee that monitors the situation at the police force in St. Maarten and at the Pointe Blanche prison. Progress Committee chairman Nico Schoof describes the minister’s visit as promising. “The Progress Committee has been urging for years to improve the detention situation in St. Maarten. It is great that the minister informs herself about possibilities and developments and that she meets with decision makers and experts. The progress committee suggested this visit a couple of months ago and it is pleased that she has acted upon it.”

Schoof notes that the Netherlands has made €30 million ($35.1 million) available as well as a program manager and other staffing for the improvement of the detention situation. Of the funding, €20 million ($23.4 million) is earmarked for the construction of a new prison.

On September 20, the minister visited Youth Protection Services in Amsterdam and a private youth detention facility in Lelystad. In Amsterdam, she also toured a small-scale adolescent detention facility for inmates aged 12-23 who are allowed to go to school, have contact with their families or work regular hours.

Richardson’s realized after her visit to the private juvenile detention center in Lelystad, “what our existing institutions need and the additional facilities we lack and need to establish.”

On September 21, the minister visited the prison in Almelo and the psychiatric center of the prison in Zwolle.

The prison in Almelo accommodates 190 inmates; this size is comparable to the new prison in St. Maarten. The prison in Zwolle provides forensic care, and these services are also necessary in St. Maarten’s new detention facility.

Almelo’s prison-director Ton Golstein is part of the Custodial Institutions Agency that analyzed the situation in the Pointe Blanche prison after Hurricane Irma. The agency’s report, produced at the end of 2017, serves as the plan of approach for the improvement of the detention situation. So far, its recommendations have not been implemented.

Related article: Compliance with recommendations to Justice Ministry

Part of the prison in Almelo is a House of Recovery, where inmates spend the last part of their sentence before release, and The Factory, a place where inmates alongside people with disabilities can work and earn some money.

A day later, Minister Richardson visited the Care and Security House in Haaglanden and Leiden’s mayor Henri Lenferink, district Chief of Police Maaike Bosch and public prosecutor Fleur Simonis. Here the minister discussed the tripartite consultation between mayor, police and prosecutor’s office. With Leidschendam-Voorburg’s mayor Jules Bijles, Richardson discussed the role of community police officers.

With State Secretary Raymond Knops, the minister talked about the status of discussions with UNOPS, the United Nations Office of Project Services that assists St. Maarten with the prison construction-project. Knops and Richardson agreed that “within the coming weeks important milestones have to be achieved.”

After her visit to Knops, Richardson went to the Education, Training and Knowledge Center of the Royal Dutch Marechaussee in Apeldoorn where Commander Frank Rippens and his deputy Willemijn Arends provided insights in the structure, mission vision and operations of the organization. The minister also met with St. Maarten’s immigration officer Rignald Gressman who is studying in Apeldoorn to become the country’s first DOC3-expert. This will take the examination of travel and identity-documents to a higher level.

Read more: Minister Richardson visits Customs Administration of the Netherlands and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee


Related articles:
Minister of Justice travels to the Netherlands for a work visit
Minister of Justice visits the prisons in Almelo and Zwolle in the Netherlands
Minister visits the Care- and Security House in Haaglanden to discover their structure
Minister of Justice meets with Mayors of Municipalities, Public Prosecutor and District Chief of Police
Minister Richardson pays a visit to State Secretary Knops
Royal Netherlands Marechaussee welcomes Minister of Justice to Education, Training and Knowledge center
Compliance with recommendations to Justice Ministry