In the Netherlands, prison and detention conditions generally met international standards. Prison conditions in Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten remained substandard in many respects, due to limited medical care and access to water, as well as inadequate security procedures that failed to prevent the smuggling of weapons and contraband. A committee for the kingdom monitored efforts to improve the conditions of the prisons in the Dutch Caribbean.
Physical Conditions: As of the end of 2013 in the Netherlands, 11,170 adults were in detention, approximately 5 percent of whom were women. In 2013 the daily average was 545 juveniles in detention. These figures excluded 1,920 persons undergoing treatment at forensic psychiatric centers and approximately 950 persons held in alien detention. The occupancy rate in prisons was approximately 90 percent. The capacity of prisons and detention centers was 12,700 for adults and 790 for juveniles. In 2012 authorities reported 27 persons died in penitentiary institutions, of whom 10 were suicides.
On Aruba as of October 23, there were 170 persons, including six women, in detention.
In Sint Maarten 161 persons were in detention on October 23, including eight women, 20 men at the police station in Simpson Bay, and three men at the police station in Philipsburg. A new youth rehabilitation center opened in October.
In Curacao 348 persons were in detention as of October 23, including 11 women. Curacao began constructing a separate youth detention facility with eight cells.
In Aruba, Sint Maarten, and Curacao, violence between inmates occurred. In Sint Maarten authorities failed to keep weapons and other contraband out of the prison and jails; security controls, such as daily body searches were not performed, although cell searches did take place. According to detainees, inmates used smuggled weapons to attack each other.
Medical resources at facilities in Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maartin were limited. A nurse worked full-time at the Sint Maarten prison, and a general practitioner was present once a week or when needed. Prisoners at the Pointe Blanche prison on Sint Maarten continued to have limited access to water, despite ongoing construction to resolve water problems. The dentist office at the Detention and Correction Center Curacao (SDKK) became operational again. Curacao has a separate facility (the Forensic Observation Treatment Division) to treat inmates with mental illnesses but lacked the required programs to monitor and follow-up long-term treatment for inmates with mental illnesses.
Prisons in Aruba had inadequate infrastructure and lacked recreational or other meaningful activities. The Aruban prison workers’ union raised concerns about the legal position and promotions of its members, disrepair of buildings, the lack of general maintenance, and the shortage of working keys and locks. Prisoners joined the prison workers’ protest by climbing on the prison roof and reportedly burning mattresses. Police and fire department personnel were present and stabilized the situation.
In Curacao the prisoners’ workspace became operational again, but prisons still lacked sufficient safety measures and sufficient training for prison guards. At the Detention and Correction Center in Curacao, authorities continued to emphasize a “do more than is required of you” approach when training prison personnel.
Administration: Throughout the kingdom, authorities monitored prison and detention center conditions. Recordkeeping was adequate.
In the Netherlands, officials commonly imposed sentences of community service or used electronic house arrest for lesser offenses. Other forms of alternative punishment included fines and community service. Authorities in Sint Maarten have the option of imposing community service and fines for nonviolent offenders, and they made use of this option during the year. In Aruba authorities employed alternative forms of punishment, such as fines, community service, or mandatory courses on subjects such as anger management. In Curacao there was a small-scale program to place selected individuals under house arrest and monitor them electronically. The Curacao prison also provided in-house training programs focused on the (re)socialization of detainees.
In the Netherlands, prisoners could submit complaints without censorship through three channels: the prison supervisory committee, the prison’s counselor in charge of prisoner placement, or the prison system’s complaint commission. The Caribbean portions of the kingdom also had supervisory committees to receive prisoner complaints. Throughout the kingdom authorities permitted prisoners religious observance and allowed them to receive visitors.
Independent Monitoring: The kingdom governments permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers, such as human rights groups, the media, the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as by international bodies such as the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the UN Working Group for People of African Descent.
A CPT delegation visited the Caribbean parts of the kingdom in May and examined conditions, specifically the state of adults and juveniles in police cells. On Aruba and Curacao, the delegation looked at the treatment of involuntary patients in psychiatric facilities and of undocumented residents in immigration detention centers.
Improvements: The SDKK started a 100-prison-cell renovation project in January to repair broken cells and began construction of 18 maximum-security prison cells to house the most dangerous criminals. In May a special improvement project “Mehorashon” (“improvement”) began, focused on improving conditions and finding solutions in coordination with input from prison employees. In Sint Maarten, renovation and expansion projects at the Point Blanche prison added new facilities, including a kitchen, an employee office, and an open-air space for sports and recreation.