Budget Day 2021: invest in the stability of the rule of law

The increasingly ruthless violence being perpetrated by organised criminals is placing growing pressure on the stability of the rule of law. The Dutch government therefore intends to structurally and significantly increase its investments in the fight against subversive crime. An effective rule of law also means that those in need of legal assistance are able to obtain such aid. For this reason, the government will make additional funds available for subsidised legal aid in the coming years.

Fighting subversive crime

The fight against organised subversive crime is a long-term and hard-fought battle. The three murders in connection with a key witness illustrate the hardening of attitudes in criminal circles and the vulnerability of our rule of law. In 2022, the broad offensive being undertaken by the current government against organised subversive crime will receive additional resources in the amount of 524 million euros, 434 million euros of which will be on a structural basis.

One half of this additional funding will be allocated to strengthen the resilience of society and our economy against criminal influences. This will entail targeted joint measures, taken in cooperation with municipalities, Regional Information and Expertise Centres, the Police, the Public Prosecution Service, the Tax and Customs Administration, the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), the Royal Marechaussee, international partners and private parties. Steps must be taken to prevent a new generation of criminals, such as by offering young people prospects for studying and working and by increasing the visibility of formal authority in vulnerable neighbourhoods. Measures to enhance resilience will be combined with deterrents: authoritative prevention. We will also make it less attractive to earn money with drugs by confiscating criminal assets and disrupting criminal cash flows. We want to provide our economic infrastructure and logistical processes with stronger protection against subversive crime: from mainports and greenports to smaller ports and farm sheds.

The remaining additional funds will be used for the structural reinforcement of our criminal justice system and for investments in forensic investigation and special investigative services. Those who safeguard our democratic rule of law – such as local administrators, judges, public prosecutors, police officers, lawyers and journalists – must feel they are being better protected. We will therefore be making additional investments in administrative resilience and the surveillance and security system.

Access to justice

Effective legal representation is crucial to ensuring access to justice. The doors of the rule of law must be open to all. In the coming years, the government will allocate additional funds to improve compensation for legal-aid counsellors, mediators and guardians ad litem. This compensation will be brought in line with the average number of hours they spend on a case. In 2022, 154 million euros will be made available for this purpose.

The overhaul of the legal-aid system continues under the motto of “more solutions, fewer procedures”. Providing faster, more easily accessible help to those in trouble is expected to result in fewer requests for legal aid in the future. The government is additionally calling on commercial attorneys to make greater contributions, financial and otherwise, to legal aid for people with limited means.

Investments in detention

Strengthening the approach to serious organised crime will increase the number of detainees in detention. In order to safely adjudicate, transport and incarcerate this high-risk group of detainees, we are now investing heavily in our prison system. To that end, a sum of 45 million euros is available in 2022, followed by 25 million in 2023 and then 15 million on a structural basis. In order to accommodate the Custodial Institutions Agency's growing need for capacity, the budget for 2022 will be structurally increased by 154 million. Those funds will be deployed to expand the capacity for detentions under hospital orders and in forensic care, prisons and young offenders institutions.

An integral, just and feasible migration policy

There is more to migration than just asylum. Migration is about people arriving in the Netherlands from all over the world. They come here to work, to study, to live with family members or in search of asylum and protection. 

The Netherlands offers protection to those who flee war and violence, yet it also takes action against asylum-seekers who cause nuisance and thereby undermine public support. In addition, the government remains committed to the repatriation of individuals who are not permitted to stay in the Netherlands and to the improvement of our border controls. These are all components of a strict but fair approach which keeps sight of the human aspect.