Council on Law Enforcement recommends care for addicts

PHILIPSBURG–The criminal justice system in St. Maarten is simply not equipped to handle addicts and persons with mental disorders who have come into contact with law enforcement. These are the findings of the Law Enforcement Council in a recent report compiled on the topic.

The Council concludes that the Justice system is not equipped to deal with, treat or provide these persons with the required aftercare.Indications about possible shortcomings in the area of forensic care for addicts and persons with mental disorders surfaced in an earlier study conducted in 2013, which was reason enough for the Council to respond with this most recent research. The new study confirms that the current state of affairs with regard to equipping the criminal justice system for the reception, treatment and aftercare for this specific group of persons is seriously lagging behind.Addicts and persons with mental disorders who come into contact with the law either because of a lack of adaptation, self-destructive behaviour and/or delinquent behaviour, often do not receive the necessary reception, treatment and aftercare. These persons continue to suffer from the absence of these facilities and represent a group with a high risk of repeating offences, the Council believes.It is certainly not in the interest of their reintegration into society or that of public safety when in practice these persons repeatedly come into contact with the criminal justice system. Furthermore, international requirements on how to deal with such persons currently are not met by St. Maarten. The absence of required care also has an indirect effect on the entire Justice system.

The Council believes that on the one hand the Justice system is experiencing overburdening by these groups and on the other hand is obliged to deal with problems for which it is not equipped or is being equipped.

Seeing what is at stake, the Council hopes the Minister of Justice will soon address the legal, administrative and policy framework, through which a basis will be created for the structure, cooperation and organisation of facilities for the criminal justice system to handle those addicts and persons with mental disorders who break the law. To this end, the Council has made four recommendations.

Pursuant to the Kingdom Act on the Law Enforcement Council, the Minister of Justice will be given the opportunity to send the relevant advice of the Council to Parliament within six weeks, along with his policy response.

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