Monday, 2 September 2013 - 03:58
Locked Up Abroad
The Netherlands should be much more generous in taking back its nationals who are locked up abroad, often trapped in appalling conditions . The so called ‘Wots’ treaties, which the Netherlands has for repatriating of these people, with other countries, often miss their target, because the process takes too long and for prisoners it is the question if they can return at all. That says Peter Middelkoop of Foundation Epafras, which visits annually about 1800 prisoners abroad . The National Ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer recently announced an investigation, because according to him it seems that the Netherlands systematically rejects requests of Dutch convicts. He received about six complaints from prisoners in Venezuela, Panama, Bolivia and Peru. Middelkoop confirms that it is a problem concerning more countries, especially in Latin America . The problem is not only that the application takes a long time, but when already approved, there is often too little remaining penalty time in the Netherlands . The transfer is intended to rehabilitate convicts properly. The Ministry of Security and Justice thinks that there should be at least a remaining sentence of four months. If not, then repatriating of prisoners will not be done. Reintegration Epafras thinks that it is important that detainees who are locked up abroad, can serve their last months in the Netherlands. "In most cases, they will return back to the Netherlands after their sentence. So it would be good if they can reintegrate into the society," said Middelkoop. No matter what the remainder of the punishment is, people can serve that always better in the Netherlands. Even if there is no remainder, the returning ex-prisoners should be helped. 'The Netherlands should be more creative to deal with that aftercare'', says Middelkoop . "We really would like that there would be a project for people who return without penalty remainder. Even people who have lived and worked abroad for four or five years have problems getting used to the society again. So you can imagine how this will be for people who have been in jail for a few years."