SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever took note of media reporting regarding the status of the Prison in Point Blanche and was baffled by the recent story that was published based on outdated information.
Information about the progress being made at the Prison was published in the media mid-December under the headline, “Minister inspects repairs at prison.”
At that time urgent repairs were being made to the roof, corridor walls and courtyard walls. These works including project management and site supervision were being carried out by Independent Consulting Engineers (ICE).
References made to the St. Maarten Progress Committee third-quarter 2018 report and published in a news article mid-February are outdated and based on the observation period by members of the committee from July 2018 – October 2018.
“I do not dispute the observations made in the Progress Committee third-quarter 2018 report, but much has been achieved since that report and since those site observations were made. The perception created in the media today is far from the truth of today’s progress.
“There has been much progress since three and a half months ago, and it is very unfortunate how the reporting was done in connection with the hard work, time and effort that has been made by all stakeholders and the contractors over this period,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday.
The St. Maarten Progress Committee has since visited the Point Blanche Prison, in December 2018 and again in January 2019.
“Some observations were made by a representative of the committee after visiting in December prior to the January site visit. At that time, they noted that things were moving forward step by step and saw that we were committed to getting things moving based on the recommendations made in the report.
“I also met with and briefed the Dutch Minister of Justice & Security Grapperhaus as well as Dutch State Secretary Knops during our justice deliberations in Aruba (JVO) that took place in the latter part of January.
“Progress at the Point Blanche Prison has also been published in the media and on our Facebook page amongst other sources. There should have been balance reporting, but there’s what you read and then there is the truth,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Sunday.
Minister De Weever added that the rebuilding process has been confronted with a number of challenges along the way and the Ministry of Justice has been diligently dealing with them as best it can.
“For example, not all electrical work can be completed at the Point Blanche Prison before renovations have been completed. Government is dependent on external entities to carry out works based on winning the bid for that particular project.
“A Dutch Company was hired to re-install existing camera’s among other technical works. Even though their invoice was partially pre-paid, the work has not started as yet despite repeatedly requesting a start date.
“There is a transparent process in place for selecting companies to carry out work at the prison, and we have to follow the procedures as dictated by good governance and this plays a role in things not moving fast enough as some would like them too, but we are making steady progress and we will continue on the track embarked upon based on our adjusted improvement plan and the recommendations of the Progress Committee in order to meet our obligations as well as international treaties and conventions,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever concluded.