Unlimited right to be heard for victims as from
The Senate has agreed with a legislative proposal by minister Van der Steur (Minister of Security and Justice) that makes the right to be heard in the courtroom possible for victims of serious crimes. From now on they can also tell what they, for example, think about the guilt of a suspect and what the punishment should be. Until now victims were only allowed to tell what the crime meant for them personally.
The legislative proposal makes an end to the differences in practice at courts. Victims often had the opportunity to talks about the sentence, but sometimes this was not the case, because a reference was made to the strict formulations of the current law (and its original intention). The legislative proposal also meets the clear wishes of victims who want to give a complete account at the court session.
Prior to the court session, victims must be prepared well for their right to be heard and the possible consequences. Victims will therefore be assisted by various authorities. For example, by the Netherlands Victim Support. A specialised victim lawyer may also play an important role in the support of victims and may also offer them advice on how to discuss the sentence and evidence. For the public prosecutor the victim interview is the moment during which he can discuss the case with the victim. This especially applies to what the victim may expect of the hearing at the court session, the demand of the public prosecutor and the final judgement of the judge.
Incidentally, the victim remains a participant in the proceedings and he/she will not become an independent party to the proceedings.