Published On: Sat, Jun 6th, 2020

Progress Committee remains in place for another two years

Prison-and-House-of-Detention gate entrance

PHILIPSBURG – The Progress Committee that monitors the plans of approach for the police force and the prison system will continue its work for another two years. The royal decree that regulates this was established per 10-10-2010 and had been extended since then four times, every time for a period of two years. The regulation formally ends on October 10 of this year but because the situations at the prison and – to a lesser extent – at the police force still require urgent attention, State secretary Knops has now decided to extend it until October 2022.

In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, Knops notes that Curacao completed the execution of its plans of approach three years ago; reason to end the regulation for that country per June 1, 2017.

Sint Maarten has executed three of the five plans of approach. Those for the prison system and the police force remain. The Progress Committee has reported that, after the island was hit by Hurricane Irma, the country hardly made any progress because of the hurricane’s serious impact on important parts of the judicial system. On the bright side, there have been positive developments at the police force during the past year. The committee concludes that the plans of approach will not be completed by the end of its current mandate, on October 10 of this year.

During a ministerial consultation on April 23, the Netherlands and the Kingdom acknowledged the importance and the urgency of completing the plans of approach. “St. Maarten committed to taking political decisions that will create the relevant conditions,” Knops wrote to the Dutch parliament.

While the extension formally keeps the Progress Committee in place until October 10, 2022, the intention is to complete the plans of approach as soon as possible.

“An extension only makes sense if both parties are prepared to cooperate with each other,” according to the Progress Committee.

Knops emphasizes that the extension is not without obligation. “It has been evident for years that the detention situation in St. Maarten is insufficient,” Knops wrote. “The Netherlands has offered legal, organizational and architectural support but St. Maarten has made limited use of that offer.”

The state secretary warns that structural improvements will only materialize if agreements are honored. “The lack of progress requires a decisive approach.”

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Relevant links:
Knops letter to Second Chamber about extension mandate Progress Committee
Progress Committee articles