Thursday , January 26 2023

‘Victims’ rights on islands need to match with the Netherlands’

The Law Enforcement Council con­cluded in a recent report that crime victims in Bo­naire, St. Eustatius and Saba have fewer rights than victims in the Netherlands. Harmonisation of these rights is needed.

The Law Enforcement Council already assessed the system of providing as­sistance to victims in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2012, and repeated this in­vestigation in 2018. A num­ber of the sticking points from 2012 still exist.
The Council had praise for the active Victim Support Bureau in the Caribbean Netherlands which has an involved staff. However, the victims have fewer rights on the islands. Harmonisation of these rights will mean an important step has been taken, the Council stated.

Dutch Minister of Legal Protection Sander Dekker stated in a reaction he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament ear­lier this week that he too considered proper atten­tion for the victim in crimi­nal law and good victim care of great importance.
He was content with the Law Enforcement Coun­cil’s conclusion that the subject received attention in the Caribbean Nether­lands. “Explicit steps for­ward have been made since the previous report of the Council. But I do realise that there are subjects that require improvement.”

Dekker supports the Council’s recommendation to improve the reporting process for victims, as this is the starting point for the providing of adequate as­sistance to victims. He also agreed with the Council’s recommendation to ar­range with the Prosecutor’s Office that sentences are executed that involve the payment of damages to the victim.

Dekker further agreed to ensure that there is suffi­cient legal know-how avail­able at the Victim Support Bureau on the islands. The bureau can count on support from the Netherlands in this matter. The Neth­erlands Violent Offences Damages Fund will organ­ise training on how to offer support to victims in filing a request.

The Law Enforcement Council further recom­mended changing the law which would give victims in the Caribbean Netherlands the right to submit a victim declaration, to speak dur­ing the Court sessions and to receive an advance from the government in case the defendant does not pay damages.
Dekker agreed to adapt the Caribbean Netherlands Penal Code eventually, but indicated that he would wait until implementation of the new Code of Crimi­nal Procedure (“Wetboek van Strafvordering”) of Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten was approved by the parliaments and subse­quently implemented.

The new Code of Crimi­nal Procedure of the three Dutch Caribbean coun­tries includes regulations regarding the victim, such as the right to information about his/her rights, the process of investigation, prosecution and adjudica­tion; the right to see the criminal dossier to ask per­mission to add documents; the right to be added as an injured party; and the right to speak.

As soon as the new Code of Criminal Procedure is introduced simultaneously in Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, the minister will promote the implementa­tion of the adapted Code of Criminal Procedure for the Caribbean Netherlands around the same time. “This will largely guaran­tee the uniformity of the procedural criminal law in the Caribbean part of the kingdom, and as such also the victims’ rights.”

He noted in his letter that the Caribbean Netherlands Prosecutor’s Office, the Ca­ribbean Netherlands Police Force KPCN and the Vic­tim Support Bureau were working on bringing the victim process up to date and to streamline this pro­cess.

Dekker confirmed that the Netherlands Victim Sup­port was open to arriving at a cooperation agreement with the Caribbean Nether­lands Victim Support Bu­reau to further profession­alise and support the latter organisation.

The Daily Herald.

Police reports of Friday, August 31st until Monday, September 3rd 2018
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