Chris van Dam
THE HAGUE--Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Chris van Dam of the Christian Democratic Party CDA has again expressed his “deep concern” about the conditions in the holding cells at the Philipsburg police station.
Van Dam on Thursday submitted a set of written questions to Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker about the December 17, 2019, decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to declare the detention of a detainee in a St. Maarten police cell as unlawful.
The case concerns a male suspect, G., whose lawyer in St. Maarten, Sjamira Roseburg, brought the matter to the attention of the media. The Human Rights Court decided to “indicate” to the Dutch government that the applicant not be detained in conditions contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The ECHR took the decision in light of the “very exceptional circumstances” of the case, namely the conditions of detention at the Philipsburg police station where G. was being held because regular remand facility at the Pointe Blanche prison was full.
Member of Parliament (MP) Van Dam asked the Ministers whether they were aware of the Court’s decision. He asked them whether it was correct that the interim measure allowed suspects to be held for a longer period in the police cells.
“Is it correct that suspects are held longer at the police cells because of the deficient transferring to the Pointe Blanche prison? What is the policy of the Prosecutor’s Office to prevent that suspects are held too long at the police station?”
Van Dam asked the Minister whether they shared his opinion that the decision of the ECHR was “very undesirable” considering the fact that the Kingdom/the Netherlands was already placed under “enhanced supervision” by the same Court.
In October 2018, the ECHR condemned the inhumane detention of Italy-born St. Maarten casino boss Francesco Corallo, who was held at the Philipsburg police station for months. According to the Court’s ruling in the “Corallo vs. the Netherlands” case, the Netherlands had violated the same convention. After this ruling, the Kingdom/the Netherlands was placed under enhanced supervision.
As he has done on several earlier occasions, MP Van Dam addressed the general detention facilities in St. Maarten, both at the police station and at the prison. He asked whether the Ministers agreed that the (bad) physical quality of the prison, the constant maximum capacity and the (substandard) detention circumstances in general, were all “way below the standards of what is desirable within our Kingdom.”
“Do you share my deep concerns that the current very limited possibilities of holding suspects adequately in pre-trial detention can have very severe consequences for the general state of law enforcement in St. Maarten, including the considerable chances at undermining of the credibility of law enforcement?”