Dutch government wants lawyer for sex offense victims immediately

Victims of sexual offense or rape who report to the police should immediately get the support of a lawyer. The Dutch government wants to strengthen the position of victims of sex crimes by improving the processes of sexual offense cases.

There are serious concerns about the course of sexual offense cases. Victims often refrain from reporting the crime. Not only does the research team suffer from major shortages, victims often have to wait a long time for the trial. Meanwhile, they hardly receive updates on the case. Special victim lawyers, a growing specialization, must assist victims from the beginning onwards.

Rarely convictions

Previously, a trial was conducted working with victim lawyers. Just like lawyers who assist offenders, they worked with a picket service and were available on call. The Dutch government will pay the assistance and will decide whether this method will become common practice in the near future.

Incidentally, it appeared recently that reports of sexual crimes rarely lead to convictions. Not even one in ten victims who go to the police for rape see the perpetrator convicted. In 2021, the police counted 2168 reports of rape and 2144 sex offense. That year, 195 perpetrators were convicted of rape and 234 of sexual offense. The lack of evidence is often the issue, although victim lawyers also complain about a lack of (good) research.

The Dutch government has the ambition to strengthen the position of the victim in criminal law. For example, from 1 July 2023 onwards, suspects who are in prison on suspicion of a serious sexual offense or violent crime must be present at hearings. From January onwards, victims will also have the right to speak at hearings and insist on the conditions that can be imposed on leave or release, such as a restraining order or contact ban.

Source: AD