Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency trainers visit Sint Maarten for prison assessment

Philipsburg – On Wednesday, March 2nd, the Minister of Justice, Ms. Anna E. Richardson held an
introductory meeting with trainers of the prison training institute of the Dutch Custodial Institutions
Agency (Dienst Justitiele Inrichtingen, hereafter DJI).
Upon the request of Minister Richardson, the DJI trainers were invited to Sint Maarten, to familiarize
themselves with the Point Blanche prison and to assess what training curriculum needs to be established
for the prison personnel. Also, in attendance at the meeting was the prison’s HR-advisor, Mr. Richard
Zijlstra who has been posted at the prison since December 2021 upon the request of the Minister of
Justice from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, to assist in HR matters at the prison.
Prior to 10-10-10, training for all justice executive workers was administered in Curacao until the
dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010. After 2010, training for the prison guards was provided
by the prison and the Justice Academy. After the Justice Academy was severely damaged by hurricane
Irma and the building could no longer be used to give classes, no further structural training courses were
put in place for current and new prison officers.
In 2018 the Minister of Justice in office at the time, enlisted the help of the Dutch government to
improve Sint Maarten’s detention system. A team of professionals from the Dutch Custodial InstitutionsAgency travelled to Sint Maarten to offer their expertise and carried out an in-depth study on the
country’s detention system. This team produced a Detention Plan of Action on how to address the many
challenges of the country’s prison system. The DJI team consisted of six persons with many years of
experience in prison and forensic care. They delivered the following report: “A Safe Society: building a
responsible and sustainable detention system on Sint Maarten (2018-2023),
One of the recommendations in the detention plan focuses on training programs for prison personnel.
This item has also been taken up in the country package under measure H.20 as an urgent point of
Discussions with the DJI prison training institute on training programs for Sint Maarten prison personnel
were started last year and have yielded positive results. The DJI prison training institute has proposed to
provide similar training opportunities for prison personnel in Sint Maarten as is provided in the
Netherlands. The DJI prison training institute would design a tailor-made training for the prison
personnel on Sint Maarten, which, once completed, will certify the guards.
Minister Richardson recognizes that prison work is complex and requires a variety of skills. Well-trained
prison personnel is important so that prison staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitude to
perform their duties well and with respect for the rights and dignity of inmates. For this reason, it is of
great importance that prison officers, current and new, are up to date with their knowledge and skills
and should be provided the opportunity to continuously develop and enhance through further training.
The training provided by the DJI prison training institute covers topics such as self-defense, integrity,
safety and security of staff and inmates, physical training, relevant legal regulations, positive
communication and more. The training usually consists of minimum 8 and maximum 12 persons per
group and takes about 6 weeks to complete.
Once the training course is finalized and approved, the Minister of Justice, the prison director and his
team look forward to kicking off the first training course within the coming few months.