CU: Improve legal systems for Statia, Saba offenders

cynthia+ortega+tweede+kamer-610donderdag 19 januari 2012 16:38

The Christian Union (CU) wants the Dutch Minister and State Secretary of Safety and Justice to improve the legal system for the Dutch “public entities” Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba so residents of the two latter islands no longer have to go to Bonaire for Court cases. CU Members of the Second Chamber Cynthia Ortega-Martijn and Carola Schouten submitted questions to Minister Ivo Opstelten and State Secretary Fred Teeven of Safety and Justice on Tuesday about the matter.

The CU Members of Parliament (MPs) found it “incomprehensible” that Court cases of Statia and Saba residents are handled inBonaireand whether the rights of these detainees were sufficiently safeguarded.

“The islands are located 800km fromBonaireand there are no direct flights. This makes it almost impossible for families of both parties to attend the Court case,” stated Ortega-Martijn in a press release following reports in the media that suspects from St. Eustatius andSabaare hampered by the current legal system.

In their questions to the Minister, Ortega-Martijn and Schouten sought clarity on reports that the circumstances of Statia and Saba offenders inBonaire’s prison were bad. They asked the Minister and State Secretary whether he agreed that the judicial process for offenders from St. Eustatius and Saba had worsened now that they had to go toBonaireinstead of St. Maarten.

Ortega-Martijn and Schouten expressed concerns about stories that first time young offenders are being held with heavy criminals inBonaire’s prison. Contact with heavy criminals would impede the proper functioning of these youngsters once they are released and get back in society, they pointed out.

The MPs also wanted to have clarity on reports that lawyers of offenders from St. Eustatius and Saba are not informed or informed at a late stage that their clients are being transferred toBonaire.

Often lawyers remain unclear which Judge will handle their client’s case and contact with the client is nearly impossible due to an improper functioning of the video-conferencing system. The MPs asked the Minister and State Secretary what measures were being taken to remedy the situation.

The MPs further asked when the additional detention capacity would become available in Bonaire andSt. Eustatius. They also wanted to know whether facilities, including re-socialisation and rehabilitation, for offenders from the three islands were up to par.

Ortega-Martijn and Schouten requested the Dutch Government to provide clarity on the location of the new prison that will be built inSt. Eustatius. Statia’s Executive Council has changed the venue for the new prison and wants to build the facility in Steward instead of the original location of Man-a-War.

The MPs asked the Minister and State Secretary whether they had taken note of the objections of Statia residents about the new location for the prison. They wondered whether these concerns were sufficient reason to reverse this plan.

Overgenomen met toestemming van The Daily Herald

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