MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
PHILIPSBURG--Members of Parliament (MPs) Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Sarah Wescot-Williams and Christophe Emmanuel have requested that the President of Parliament convene an urgent meeting with Minister of Justice Anna Richardson regarding the ever-deteriorating situation at the Pointe Blanche prison.
According to Heyliger-Marten, she has been asking the minister to address the serious situation at the prison for the past two years, but things seem to be getting worse as time goes by.
“I am very concerned about the conditions under which the inmates have to live and the prison staff has to work,” she said in a release issued on Thursday afternoon. “Based on the information I have received, I have to conclude that the human rights of the prisoners are not being honoured.
“I have asked the Minister’s urgent attention for this aspect a number of times. Each time, she explains what she plans to do to improve the situation and promises to address the situation. However, the events on Wednesday evening are a clear indication that nothing has really improved.”
With regard to the prison staff, she said that they continue to work under very strenuous circumstances.
“Properly managing a crucial institution like a detention centre requires vision, dedication, decisiveness, and problem-solving skills. The many festering problems at the prison are a clear indication that the minister lacks in these areas. As a result, both the inmates and prison staff continue to suffer,” Heyliger-Marten continued.
“Despite the promises, plans, presentations, visits to Holland with photo-ops, and signed agreements, the situation at the prison seems to be getting worse as time goes by. It makes one wonder how the minister will be able to manage the new detention centre once it’s completed, and even the construction project itself.
“I hope the request of my fellow MPs and I will be honoured in accordance with the rules of order. We look forward to the meeting with the minister and hearing from her how she intends to safeguard and ensure the human rights of the inmates, the adequate working conditions for the staff, and the efficient management of a properly-functioning prison system on St. Maarten.”