MP Omar E.C. Ottley Urges Minister of Justice to Include Prison Guards in Function Book Regulations Amid Neglect Allegations

Philipsburg, June 18, 2024—The Honorable Omar E.C. Ottley, Leader of the United People’s Party, has raised serious concerns regarding the alleged ongoing mistreatment and neglect of prison guards at Pointe Blanche Prison. The facility, critically understaffed, has seen officers in training waiting to be sworn in while current staff endure severe working conditions.
“I have consistently stated that neglecting our own is unacceptable. We must prioritize the well-being of these prison guards, who perform a dangerous and vital job,” said MP Ottley in a press release issued Wednesday. He urged the Minister of Justice to urgently address this matter.
MP Ottley’s concerns stem from numerous complaints from justice workers, urging him to address the unresolved issues within the Ministry of Justice. One justice worker reported a persistent pattern of victimization by Human Resources representatives towards correctional officers. Despite their diligent work, many guards have yet to receive proper compensation or recognition for their roles and responsibilities.
“I understand that at least ten prison guards have been waiting since 2019 to be officially appointed,” Ottley stated. “When they inquire about their status, they are dismissed as ‘not qualified,’ yet they perform the duties and hold positions without appropriate pay.” MP Ottley described these complaints as “unacceptable” if true. “Our people deserve better,” he said.
Correctional officers have reported working up to 16-hour shifts to cover staffing shortages but are capped at 40 hours of overtime per month, despite frequently exceeding this limit. The guards have requested additional training to align their skills with those at other facilities, such as Justitiële Inrichting Caribisch Nederland in Bonaire, but their pleas have largely gone unheard.
A particularly troubling issue is the lack of basic amenities and support. Guards often work double shifts without access to a proper break room or meals, having to provide for themselves despite their grueling schedules. Although a team from The Netherlands recently provided some physical training, this support is seen as insufficient to address the broader systemic issues.
One guard highlighted the disparity in attention given to different sectors within the justice system. “The Ministry of Justice seems to focus on departments like the Police, Coast Guard, Customs, and Immigration, which deserve attention, but prison guards are left out,” they said. “We’re tasked with managing hardened criminals and are paid only Naf. 2000, on scale 3, which is outdated and inadequate.”
MP Ottley emphasized the dire need for immediate reforms and support. “Some guards have waited over ten years for an LB (Landsbesluit). The hiring process is nearly nonexistent, and we rely heavily on the Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten (VKS) for assistance,” a Corrections Officer noted. “We work without proper food, minimal overtime pay, and face constant bureaucratic hurdles.”
“We cannot claim to be doing our best for the Ministry of Justice if such glaring issues persist,” Ottley asserted. “I urge the government to address these problems urgently.”
MP Ottley reiterated his commitment to advocating for the correctional officers and all justice workers who have been overlooked. “The United People’s Party stands with these dedicated workers. We will continue to fight for their rights and ensure that their voices are heard.”
For further information, please contact MP Omar E.C. Ottley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *