For a free, secure and just society
A strong legal system should have a reliable government that protects its citizens against crime, arbitrariness and abuse of power. It is necessary that people feel safe at home, in the street and on the internet, as well as with respect to the government. In 2020, we will therefore make additional investments in the pillars of this legal system: effective investigation within and beyond our borders, a strong and independent judiciary, as well as properly functioning judicial authorities. This year, the Coalition Agreement will make a total of 449 million euros available to the Ministry of Justice and Security.
Assistance to the legal system
While the Dutch judiciary is held in high regard, several reports have highlighted severe pressures on its functioning. Eliminating financial deficits in the sector will allow the judiciary organisation to modernise the judiciary to a large extent. An annual amount of approximately 95 million euros has been made available to this end in the new arrangements with the Council for the Judiciary (the so-called price agreement). As a result, the financial foundation should grow sound, enabling the judiciary to reduce lead times and prioritise the elimination of deficits. Actions include creating a flexible pool of judges, transferring cases to other courts and streamlining work processes at the national level. The basic digitisation plan will also be implemented, and the actual digitisation of caseloads in administrative and civil law will begin over the course of 2020.
In order to exercise the rights and access the safeguards offered by our legal system, everyone should be able to avail themselves of the best possible assistance and support. To this end, the system of subsidised legal aid will be revised. The information provision about people's rights will be improved and legal aid packages will be developed for which people with the lowest incomes will only pay a personal contribution. In 2020, 13 million euros will be earmarked for the revision of legal aid. Moreover, the Council for the Judiciary has made 10 million euros available through an innovation scheme. The final stage of the system change is a legislative proposal to implement the reforms.
Subversive crime is a threat to our society, demanding greater urgency and a stronger response from the government. To combat this subversion, a structural investment of 10 million euros and a subversion fund of 100 million euros have been made available. As subversion demands a long-term approach, the deployment of these means will be spread out. The approach to subversion will be enhanced further in 2020 by targeting drug trafficking and criminal cash flows. A package of anti-subversion legislation is in the pipeline. One example is a legislative proposal that authorises mayors to shut down premises that have been shot at or where weapons have been found. Other means will be reserved for seizing criminal assets and addressing money laundering. A tough stance will be taken on injecting criminal money into the legal economy. The approach to organised crime will focus in particular on human trafficking.
A secure society
New types of crime require new methods of investigation. As a result, huge investments will be made in the police force: the Coalition Agreement has earmarked 291 million euros for the expansion, flexibilisation, innovation, equipment and resources of the force. The expected outflow of veteran officers and the shrinking labour market necessitate additional efforts to increase the number of officers. In 2020, the salaries of police officers will rise, while the programmes to improve career perspectives as well as to guarantee safe and healthy working conditions will be continued. Preparations for a new collective labour agreement will commence next year.
Changing threats are challenging our national security interests. Combating terrorism demands our constant attention. At the same time, the digital threat from malicious countries is on the rise. These countries attempt to undermine our prosperity, stability and transparency by means of digital espionage, disruption and sabotage. This concerning threat assessment calls for structural improvements to our resilience, both digital and otherwise. Vital companies and organisations will face increased supervision and guidance in taking resilience measures in the year ahead.
Among the most destructive types of crime is online child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse material should have no place on the internet. Problematic internet companies that neglect to remove all child sexual abuse material will be fined from now on. A legislative proposal to this end is being drafted. The scope and application of new instruments such as the HashCheck server, which detects and removes child sexual abuse material, will be expanded further.
Fewer illegal residents and faster repatriation
Thorough procedures and a minimum of disturbance are crucial to maintaining public support for a just and balanced migration policy. The rule of law applies to everyone. A key challenge is reducing lead times in processing asylum applications. Asylum application backlogs will be addressed by expediting the response to and rejection of reapplications. To do so, the government will reserve 134 million euros in 2020 and make an additional investment of 65 million euros on a structural basis. Whether or not asylum seekers stand a chance of qualifying for legal residence will be distinguished more acutely in the asylum procedure so as to facilitate subsequent efforts towards integration or immediate repatriation, respectively. Rejection must be followed by leaving the country. The Ministry is collaborating with countries of origins on arrangements to repatriate their nationals.
By creating flexible reception capacity, accommodating changes in asylum figures will become a more efficient process. The tough stance on the limited group of foreign nationals causing disproportionate disturbance will continue to apply in full, while constantly monitoring the necessity and possibility of additional measures.