The Friendly Island of St. Maarten cries

Sjamira Roseburg from Peterson and Sulvaran law office


On February 28, 2017 the Inmates Association stood in court, screaming for help. The inmates started a case against the Government of St. Maarten to stop the structural violation of human rights.

The court will settle this injunction case on coming Friday, March 31, 2017.

Last Friday things got heated again in the correctional facility. A fight broke out where this time also guards were injured. How is it possible that a correctional facility that’s housing 120 male inmates only has 4 guards on the work floor?

Apparently the request on behalf of the Inmates Association to the Court in First Instance wasn’t clear enough for the Ministry of Justice because a 3-month long period of normalization process is still required.

Hard working people who make an honest living aren’t assured of going home safely after their daily shifts. Spouses and innocent children aren’t at ease because they aren’t assured that their husband or wife, mommy or daddy, will come home safely. Each incoming phone call could be bad news. In various households spread through the island there is major unrest.

Above the “friendly island” hangs a dark cloud. Everything we fear can occur tomorrow. All kinds of signs have been given: deadly shootings, confiscated fire arms, stabbings amongst one another and now fights where guards are involved.

In front of our jail doors on St. Maarten, South-American shenanigans are awaiting us. The community is asking for more explanation. Is the Ministry of Justice planning to postpone the plans, or to stretch them out, or to pretend as if this problem really isn’t a big deal?

Waiting on a 3-month long normalization process is not an option. Action needs to be taken now. Enough is enough!

Hopefully soon more clarity will arise for the benefit of the jailhouse, the inmates and the guards.

Binding measures need to be taken so the rest and safety can be restored for the inmates and everyone else involved.

What may happen next? Who will be the next victim? And who is reliable? And who is responsible? Government of St. Maarten come in to action! This is a cry for help!

Who is going to speak out? Who dares to take the responsibility for the safety of the inmates, guards and the community?

Let it be known that the guards might go on a strike because there is no one who can guarantee their safety. Let it be no surprise if the inmates will show even more resistance.

Last but not least, let it be no surprise that people in the community will rise up against the government.

This is a wake-up call, so who will take the mic?

The Friendly Island of St. Maarten cries.

Sjamira Roseburg

Lawyer of Sulvaran & Peterson law firm