PHILIPSBURG–The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has declared the detention of a detainee in the holding cells in the Philipsburg police station unlawful. The decision was made on Tuesday, December 17.
“The ECHR has decided that the detention of my client G. in the police cells of Philipsburg is illegal,” attorney-at-law Sjamira Roseburg of the Consider it Solved by Roseburg & Partners law office said.
The Human Rights Court said it would “indicate” to the government of the Netherlands, “that the applicant not be detained in conditions contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.”
Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibits torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” There are no exceptions to or limitations on this right. This provision usually applies, apart from torture, to cases of severe police violence and poor conditions in detention.
“This decision was taken in the very exceptional circumstances of the present case, namely that it concerns conditions of detention on remand in St. Maarten – a small island country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands – where the applicant is currently being held in an annex to the Philipsburg police station because the regular remand facility at Pointe Blanche – the only other detention facility on the island – is apparently full,” the ECHR wrote in a letter to G.’s lawyer in the Netherlands.
“As G.’s attorney [in St. Maarten – Ed.], I applied to the judge of instruction for the immediate release of my client, as he was still detained in the police cells of Philipsburg after 10 days in custody, on December 2, 2019,” Roseburg explained.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, G.’s detention was not unlawful because the police cells have been designated as a remand centre for pre-trial detention, adding that the Pointe Blanche prison is currently full.
“I indicated that client must follow a day programme for those in pre-trial detention. But as this was not the case, immediate release had to follow,” the lawyer explained.
“It is striking that the Prosecutor’s Office has taking this position here, as prosecutors themselves have drawn up a policy stating that the maximum capacity at the Pointe Blanche prison is 70 people and that detainees are no longer allowed to stay in the police cells for longer than 10 days.”
She said that for “incomprehensible” reasons, the investigating judge had decided that detention in the police cells is not unlawful and that there is no question of a violation under Article 3 of the ECHR.
However, on December 17, the ECHR decided that there was indeed a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR. As a result, the detainee had either to be immediately transferred to the Pointe Blanche prison or to a detention facility elsewhere within the Kingdom, or immediately released.
“I requested the immediate release of my client,” said Roseburg. “However, the Prosecutor’s Office immediately sent my client to Pointe Blanche, the same prison that was ‘full.’ This is very frustrating.
“It sometimes seems like I work for the Prosecutor’s Office. Every time lawyers petition the court pertaining to unlawful detention in the police cells in Philipsburg, the prosecution acts quickly by creating space in prison, so that there is no longer any interest in our requests. This is an urgent appeal to the government. This has to stop. Who will take steps so that the authorities finally comply with the law?”
In October 2018, the Human Rights Court, which is located in Strasbourg, France, condemned the inhumane detention of Italy-born casino boss Francesco Corallo, who was held at the police station for months. According to the Court’s ruling in the “Corallo vs. the Netherlands” case, the Netherlands had also violated Article Three of the Convention.
The Court awarded Corallo 5,000 euros in immaterial damages and 5,500 euros for costs and expenses incurred before the Court.
Bron: Daily Herald