Saturday’s story about three Cuban nationals who had to be hospitalised after they got hurt while in a cell at the Philipsburg police station warrants further investigation, not that there is any immediate reason to doubt their injuries were self-inflicted as claimed.
After all, detainees have been known to hurt themselves and each other in a bid to get out, avoid deportation, etc. However, when something bad happens to a person while in custody of the state it should – by definition – always be looked at.
The incident does raise questions, such as why the trio reportedly spent three months behind bars. That’s even more the case if this occurred in the same cells for which the Prosecutor’s Office has set a maximum 10-day detention limit.
It seems they did not have money for tickets to fly back home. Authorities have been forced to apply this practical approach because costs for the expulsion of illegal residents and undocumented migrants were simply becoming too high.
Nevertheless, three months is a long time, as the judge who recently ordered their deportation obviously felt too. Whether the incident was directly related to that ruling is not known.
What also remains unclear is use of the holding cells at the Simpson Bay police station as deportee facility. While the complex suffered damage from Hurricane Irma and served as “looter jail” afterwards, that was the original intention.
The treatment of migrants or refugees within the region is very much in focus due to the Venezuela crisis and situation at the Mexico-US border. St. Maarten, and by extension the Netherlands, has already been reprimanded for its detention conditions and should exercise abundant caution in this regard.