Openbaar Ministerie-Curacao-Sint Maarten-BES Islands

BES

At the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Juvenile delinquency has unabated attention and is one of the top priorities.

The emphasis is thereby on preventing that delinquency which starts at a young age, will result in a lengthy criminal career.

On Bonaire at the beginning of 2010 a proactive and multi-disciplinary approach in preventing and combating juvenile delinquency was chosen for. This has resulted in the founding of the Youth Case Consultation. Because there is more clarity on the background of delinquency, the most appropriate party can come into customized action, taking account of any neglect, lack of proper education and school absenteeism. For this a project plan has been drawn up (the so called "three intervention models juvenile delinquency") and finished in litigation with the chain partners.

The project was officially presented to the media and the outside world in 2010 together with the Lieutenant Governor. Besides the regular programs, a ‘Halt-settlement’ exists on Bonaire for the eligible youngsters. After 10-10-10 the Youth Case Consultation has also been implemented on Saba and St. Eustatius.

Young people from 12 years can be prosecuted and punished for offenses they commit. The emphasis in the prosecution of minors is on the behavioural change and the prevention of moving further into deterioration of a youngster. With at-risk youth therefore, forced care and treatment is often paramount.

For youngsters under 12 years of age, it does not mean that they can commit crimes undisturbed. If it can be said that there is a serious derailed behaviour, then it can be decided by the deployment of civil measures for forced help or even an outplacement.

For youngsters, aged 16 years and over – if the seriousness of the offense and the person of the minor gives reason to – justice will be done according to the criminal law for adults, which knows much harsher sentences than the juvenile justice system.

In order to come to a most appropriate criminal law response for the minor, all the criminal cases of minors are discussed each month by the Public Prosecutor with the Police Force and the Trusteeship Council. Within this consultation also reports of school absenteeism or late arrivals are also discussed with the School Attendance Officer, because school absenteeism and late arrival can yield to criminal offenses.

Depending on the severity of the case and the person of the minor, it may be decided to prosecute the youngster and bring him to justice. The judge then decides on the punishment to be imposed and the minor receives a note on his criminal record.

For less serious cases, the Public Prosecutor may make an offer to the minor, for the attending of a training, the provision of services (community service), and/or following instructions from the juvenile probation. This is called a conditional discharge. If the youngster complies with the conditions, then the criminal case will no longer be brought to justice. However, the minor does get a note on his penalty card.

For the least serious offenses, a HALT-settlement may be chosen. The youngster must then attend a short course or a limited number of hours performing services. Sometimes the settlement may also consist of writing a letter of apology or making a work piece. If the youngster completes the assignments well, then the criminal case is settled and the minor does not get a note on his criminal record.

The proportion of youth in the total number of registered suspects of the Public Prosecutor’s Office Bonaire, decreased from 14% in 2009 to 10% in 2010 and finally to 8% in 2011. On Saba in 2011, this percentage was 2% and 6% on St. Eustatius.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the BES islands will continue to carry on the direction on all three islands on the structure of the youth case consultation, and the tasks and responsibilities of the participating partners in the justice system.

In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the BES islands is committed to a project for the enforcement of the Compulsory Education BES, under the direction of the local administration. In 2013,the Public Prosecution makes this issue into a fixed agenda point within the Triangle Talk to realize "Policies, priorities and better enforcement". 

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