Published On: Wed, Sep 16th, 2020

Knops maintains: human rights are St. Maarten’s responsibility

THE HAGUE – “It remains urgent that the detention situation in St. Maarten improves within the foreseeable future. The problem requires a decisive approach and the cabinet has offered assistance on several occasions,” State Secretary Knops writes in a letter to the Second Chamber about the execution of a motion tabled by CDA-MP Chris van Dam and VVD-MP André Bosman on June 22 that was approved by the Dutch parliament.
The motion asks the Kingdom Council of Ministers to take control of the prison system in St. Maarten for a period of five years.

While Knops speaks of the need for decisive action in his letter, he also maintains that the supervision of human rights is primarily the responsibility of St. Maarten. Knops points out that the Kingdom Charter’s guarantee function (article 43) offers the kingdom “a limited action perspective.”

“Only when the countries do not manage to take care of the realization of human rights does guaranteeing these rights become the responsibility of the kingdom. Before we can go that route all other options must have been exhausted and that is not the case yet.”

Knops therefore keeps the conversation with St. Maarten going, together with the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice. The objective is to offer assistance.

The state secretary writes that he has received “positive signals” about the start of research into a business plan for a new prison. “I am looking into the possibilities to co-finance this research.”

Knops furthermore continues with efforts to reach an agreement with St. Maarten about the conditions for liquidity support. One part of these conditions is related to the detention conditions in the Pointe Blanche prison.

Another option is to create a provision based on the cooperation regulation for the guaranteeing of the plans of approach. “I will get back to you about this issue after I have discussed it with St. Maarten,” Knops’ letter states.

Taking over the management of the prison at the expense of St. Maarten is not a viable option, Knops writes. “The Kingdom Council has no authority over this considering the autonomy and the budget-freedom of St. Maarten.”

“I emphasize that the Dutch cabinet keeps urging St. Maarten to take steps, preferably in cooperation with the Netherlands, to improve the detention situation,” Knops writes at the end of his letter.


Related links:
Van Dam’s plan to take over prison is unlawful
Knops advises against Van Dam’s prison motion
Will Parliament and Government allow Dutch takeover of the Prison?
Van Dam wants Kingdom to take control of Pointe Blanche prison
Minister of Justice reacts to Van Dam motion