Heyliger-Marten: “Minister of Justice is allowing lingering situation at Point Blanche prison to fester”

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POINT BLANCHE, Sint Maarten — Members of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Sarah Wescot-Williams and Christophe Emmanuel have requested the President of Parliament to convene an urgent meeting with the Minister of Justice, the Hon. Anna Richardson regarding the ever deteriorating situation at the point Blanche House of Detention.

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 honored. 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” Heyliger-Marten stated.

With regards to the prison staff, the MP stated that they continue to work under very strenuous circumstances.

“Properly managing a crucial institution like a detention center 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 center once it’s completed, and even the construction project itself,” the MP stated.

“I hope the request of my fellow MP’s and I will be honored 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. Martin”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.