PHILIPSBURG:--- On Saturday, September 17th, 2021, the Minister of Justice Ms. Anna E. Richardson, and support staff traveled to the Netherlands for a working visit. At Schiphol airport, Minister Richardson was welcomed by the Minister of Plenipotentiary, Mr. Violenus, and his staff.
The working visit kicked off on Monday, September 20, 2021, with Minister Richardson visiting the Youth Protection Amsterdam (Jeugdbescherming Amsterdam) that works closely with Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice to tackle domestic violence and child abuse matters. Youth Protection Amsterdam presented Minister Richardson with their improved holistic approach that focuses on simplifying the procedures and making them more effective. After the presentation, the Minister had a very fruitful dialogue with the management team. Also joining the presentation were social workers from Saba and Bonaire that work at Youth Protection services in the Dutch Caribbean (Jeugdbescherming Caribisch Nederland) who were visiting the Netherlands for training. In the near future, Minister Richardson would like social workers in Sint Maarten working within our Youth Protection services to have the opportunity to participate in similar programs.
Following the visit to Youth Protection Amsterdam, the Minister received a tour of the first small-scale male adolescent facility (Kleinschalige Jeugd Voorziening) in Amsterdam. This facility utilizes an open concept that can be rewarded to detainees and/or convicted persons based on their motivation, behavior, and personal circumstances. The facility houses a maximum of 8 residents aged 12-23 years and allows residents to remain in school, have family contact, and work regular hours. Persons are mainly placed there when they are in pre-detention or after good behavior in a Youth Penitentiary. As part of the residents’ stay, the social workers of the facility assess their personal circumstances and create a personal development plan which includes their direct surroundings such as parents and peers. According to the behavior of the resident and their commitment to their development plan, the judge decides whether the resident can remain at this facility or needs to be transferred to a Youth Penitentiary.
The Minister’s last stop for the day was to a private juvenile detention center in Lelystad where she toured the facility and learned about the prison operations and rehabilitative and educational programs offered to the inmates. The facility works closely with the Ministry of Education to offer a variety of education programs for the residents.
Minister Richardson stated: “Visiting these well-established facilities brings a lot of realization of what our existing institutions are in need of but also highlights the types of additional facilities we lack and need to establish. More importantly, however, these in-person opportunities open the door for partnerships and support where needed. The organizations that we visited today were very welcoming. The communication has been quite positive thus far and there is much willingness and enthusiasm to have Sint Maarten be a part of programs that are underway. For example, meeting a social worker from Saba and from Bonaire that are currently in the Netherlands training with the Youth Protection services is quite inspirational. Whilst I know the BES-islands form an integral part of the Netherlands, the fact remains that we share a Kingdom and Sint Maarten has some of the same challenges as the BES-islands. As such, we all need to be in discussions about training and programs that are geared to helping our communities with the challenges we have in common. That is the purpose of this work visit, to get connected with the wheels that are turning in an effort to improve the areas that are demanding our united attention.”
During her work visit, Minister Richardson will visit various judicial and youth institutions to forge working relationships, get a better understanding of the judicial system and its stakeholders and explore ways in which Sint Maarten can be included in programs and receive assistance where necessary.