Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker announced on Wednesday his plans for the introduction of youth criminal law and youth detention in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba late 2019. This is being done together with the departments in the justice system and the care partners.
Currently, there is no separate youth criminal law in the Caribbean Netherlands. Since the islands became part of the Netherlands as public entities in 2010, the departments in the justice system have been working together to handle youth criminal cases. This makes it possible to implement youth rehabilitation or alternative punishment – for example, community service – in individual cases of suspects of minor age.
However, the current system does not sufficiently prevent youngsters with criminal behaviour from getting in a worse situation. Based on the current legislation, youth delinquents can only be reprimanded or receive a fine.
The new youth criminal law, which will be implemented late 2019, will provide a legal basis for cooperation between the departments in the justice sector to handle individual youth crime cases and will introduce youth detention. Doing community service or accepting assistance and coaching will no longer be optional.
Youth delinquents will be placed at a separate unit of the recently-opened prison in Bonaire, which serves as a penitentiary facility for the three Caribbean Netherlands islands. Dekker stated that he would be checking with the prison management to see what was necessary to implement this correctly.
Mental Health Caribbean, a mental health organisation for the Caribbean Netherlands, will be asked to contribute its expertise to a pedagogic execution of youth detention. Dekker emphasised that taking away youngsters’ liberty should only be an ultimate remedy and should last as little time as possible.
He said he would invest in further improvement and professionalising of the intervention system already in place and in further training for the staff of the different organisations involved in areas such as aggression regulation and basic training in youth rehabilitation. The effectiveness of interventions will be researched.
To support the justice sector with the implementation of youth detention and the new work processes, Dekker has appointed a policy worker at the Caribbean Netherlands Court of Guardianship for a period of three years.
He stated that it was important to prevent youngsters from ending up in the youth criminal law system and that all stakeholders continuously worked on positive and safe development of youngsters in the Caribbean Netherlands.
“That is why I will keep contributing to the intra-departmental approach on the youth theme. The introduction of youth criminal law is not a goal on its own, but will result in an adequate reaction to criminal behaviour aimed at preventing repeat offenders. This will contribute to the development of young people and to a safe community,” Dekker stated.
The Daily Herald.