In the Netherlands, prison and detention conditions generally met international standards, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers.
Prison conditions on Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten remained substandard in a number of respects and were sometimes a threat to health. Security procedures at the detention facilities were inadequate to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other contraband. While authorities undertook construction to resolve water problems, prisoners at the Pointe Blanche prison on Sint Maarten had limited access to water. Medical resources and personnel at all facilities were very limited.
Physical Conditions: As of 2011in the Netherlands, 11,550 adults were in detention, approximately 6 percent of whom were women. These figures excluded 2,170 persons undergoing treatment at forensic psychiatric centers and approximately 1,100 persons held in alien detention. The daily average in 2011 was 600 juveniles in 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 2011, 39 persons died in penitentiary institutions; 15 were suicides.
On January 16, a Russian asylum seeker who may have been suffering from mental illness committed suicide while held in Dutch alien detention in the Netherlands due to an accumulation of bureaucratic errors. The government responded by taking several measures to ensure proper procedures were followed in the processing of detainees.
In Aruba, as of August 30, 240 persons, including 15 women, were in detention.
A January report by two Dutch prison experts who visited Aruba in 2012 listed such problems as infrastructural inadequacies and the lack of recreational or other meaningful activities. The report also mentioned violence between inmates, the absence of a prison security team, and mental health care. The report also noted several positive developments, including the hiring of a prison doctor and other personnel, improvement in some medical facilities, and provision of in-house educational courses for executive personnel. Authorities developed an evacuation plan, including provision for the transportation of prisoners in crisis situations.
Following a court verdict, prison management resolved problems with leaks that caused dampness and illness. New security personnel and correctional officers received training and began work, addressing a problem of understaffing. The prison also started to offer recreational and cultural activities.
Aruba received four K-9 transport vehicles. Training and implementation were ongoing, and dogs at the prison were regularly used to improve safety and security. Cell-phone sniffing K-9 units were used to enhance prison entrance security in general.
In Sint Maarten, approximately 180 persons were in detention in November, one-quarter of them at the police station in Simpson Bay and the remainder at Point Blanche Prison. Approximately 2 percent of detainees were women; the occupancy rate in Sint Maarten was 100 percent. Since there were no separate facilities for juveniles, authorities held them with adults.
Sint Maarten has taken steps to refurbish the jail’s plumbing, but it still suffered frequent malfunctions and prisoners had no access to water in their cells. Construction work at the jail rendered certain areas unusable, which increased the negative impacts of overcrowding.
Authorities failed to keep weapons and other contraband out of the prison and jails. According to detainees, inmates used smuggled weapons to commit serious attacks against each other; security controls, such as daily body searches and regular cell searches, were not performed.
As of August, 438 persons were in detention in Curacao, with women comprising 8 percent of the prison population. The occupancy rate was approximately 62 percent. While overall occupancy was below total capacity, authorities reported they no longer had the space necessary to separate the members of rival gangs. The penal code mandates government programs to monitor and provide follow-up long-term treatment for felons and other inmates with mental illnesses. It provides for felons convicted of serious crimes to have the chance to reside in mental health facilities even after serving their sentences. Curacao, however, lacked the facilities called for in its penal code. Youth detention facilities were also insufficient, according to health-care sector specialists. Inmates complained about inadequate access to water and lack of dental care.
Prison authorities in Curacao kept one female inmate under 24-hour monitoring in an isolation cell after she made an unsuccessful suicide attempt, but eventually, lacking other facilities, they returned her to a regular cell where she later committed suicide. One male detainee also committed suicide while in custody.
Curacao began construction of a separate facility for minors. The first phase consisted of a separate building with eight cells for juveniles. There were no reports of government plans to ease overcrowding in facilities for adult offenders or to repair existing facilities. The detention facility at the airport was declared unusable in February 2012; there was no official timetable for returning it to a useable condition.
Administration: Throughout the kingdom, authorities monitored prison and detention center conditions. Recordkeeping was adequate with the exception of Curacao, where Dutch experts reported deficiencies that impeded their efforts to monitor penal facilities there.
In the Netherlands, officials commonly 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 as punishment 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.
In the Netherlands, prisoners could submit complaints without censorship through three channels: the prison supervisory committee, the penitentiary institution’s official who decides on the placement of prisoners, or the prison system’s complaint commission. The Caribbean portions of the kingdom also all 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). A CPT inspector was appointed to report to the Aruban justice and education minister concerning detention conditions in the Correctional Institute (KIA) prison. Two CPT experts also continued their annual reports to the Aruban governor regarding progress in the implementation of measures to improve detention conditions in Aruba in order to meet CPT standards.
Improvements: Curacao budgeted 34 million NAf (Netherlands Antillean guilders) ($19 million) for special police and prison projects. The Dutch government committed to fund NAf 8 million ($4.5 million) of that budget.
In Aruba, 16 new corrections officers started working in a variety of areas at the KIA prison. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that guards mistreated inmates. Authorities introduced training on the proper use of force for prison personnel in 2012. In cooperation with the Netherlands, detainee treatment training was provided for police officers and personnel of the Correctional Institute. The guards were vigilant in regard to interprisoner violence. The Correctional Institute had a written protocol aimed at combating inappropriate behavior and contacts. All detainees had access to this document and the house rules. Foreign instructors provided a five-day crisis negotiation training for Dutch Caribbean law enforcement personnel, prison staff, and public prosecutors. Crisis Negotiations Units in the Dutch Caribbean were responsible for responding to incidents that required officers trained in crisis intervention and negotiation techniques.
The renovation project of the Point Blanche prison in St. Maarten started in July to address sources of many of the prisoner complaints such as plumbing, sufficient access to potable water, and clogged toilets.