THE HAGUE–The Dutch Inspection of Justice and Security is critical of the lack of improvements at Aruba’s KIA prison. According to the Inspection, the execution of the 2016 improvement programme has come to a standstill.
The Inspection stated in a report published on Thursday that progress was needed in the areas of housing, day activities and personnel policy. “The state of the prison cells is poor, the number of day activities is very limited and the pressure on personnel is very high due to the reorganisation backlog.”
The Inspection supervises the improvement programme of the KIA prison, a programme which was launched after a highly critical 2014 report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) or degrading treatment or punishment.
No improvement was made compared to the Inspection’s last visit in 2017. The Inspection gave a list of the things that were not in order. There is no separate housing or an adapted programme for youth delinquents who are staying in the same cells as the adults.
The number of activities in which prisoners can participate during the day is still as limited as it was in 2014, at the time of the CPT report. As a result, the prisoners have to remain in their cells for many hours.
Also, there are concerns about the security and the maintenance of the penitentiary complex. A lot of computer hardware is functioning poorly. One prisoner had a special task to manually open the broken entrance gate and to close it again in the evening. A positive point is that supervision has improved with the recent revamping of the camera system.
The Inspection is concerned about the continuity of management, which is an important requirement for the improvement programme to be successful. According to the Inspection, many of the (positive) developments abruptly ended with the departure of the prison director in September 2017.
The Inspection further noted that the involvement of the Aruba Ministry of Justice has shifted since the elections and the change of government. “The new minister of Justice has not proceeded with the reorganisation of personnel initiated by his predecessor. Many ‘fictitious’ civil servants are on the prison’s payroll, but they never come to work.”
There is praise for the fact that the current management and staff have managed to keep the prison running, despite the many shortcomings. The Inspection has urged the Aruba government to restart the improvement programme.
Aruba Minister of Justice Andin Bikker laments the sharp tone of the Inspection. “They clearly did not take note of the policy plan attached to the 2018 budget which includes the intention for the construction of a new prison,” he stated in a reaction.
According to Bikker, the current situation at the prison dates back to before 2014. He said it was difficult to immediately address the issues at the prison, also considering the financial mess left behind by the previous government. He emphasised that he is working on plans for reorganisation at the prison and the construction of a new penitentiary complex.
Bron: Daily herald