Expansion of stepfamily’s right to speak
The stepfamilies of victims will be granted the right to speak at the proceedings. Minister van der Steur stated the above in a letter submitted to the Lower House of Dutch Parliament today. Van der Steur believes that the definition of the circle of entitled persons for the purposes of the dependants’ right to speak is too restrictive and does not do justice to the composition of contemporary families. People who have lost a loved one have the opportunity to be heard in court; that is the essence of the right to speak. “Who we consider to be family or loved ones and what they exactly mean to us is not determined by blood relationship alone. I want that sentiment to be expressed.”
Minister van der Steur is thereby accommodating a requirement of the Dutch Lower House that called for adding the stepfamily to the group of persons entitled to speak earlier this year. They did call for this as a result of the Nicole v/d Hurk case (murdered in 1995), among other reasons, in which the court ruled that the stepmother was not allowed to speak, as she was legally not a dependant. An important consideration is the social development consisting of an increase in the number of reconstituted families, in which the family ties are not determined by the blood relationship. In part due to this reason, Minister van der Steur wants to introduce a new definition in the legislative proposal on the modernisation of the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure, ensuring that the circle of entitled persons is expanded, granting the stepfamily also access to the right to speak as dependants.