Right to an attorney soon expanded in Netherlands

Minister Ivo Opstelten and State Secretary Fred Teeven (Security and Justice) submitted two legislative proposals to the Tweede Kamer (lower house of parliament) that will ensure that a suspect in custody can have legal assistance during police questioning. Currently detained suspects are only allowed to consult counsel before the questioning.

If these bills are accepted, counsel will be allowed to be present at the questioning and participate. Among other things, the lawyer will be allowed to ask questions, make comments and ask for a time out.

In 2011 the Cabinet put a bill on legal assistance and police interrogation in process, but that bill has now been split into two separate legislative proposals. This is due to the already established European guideline in this matter that has to be converted to Dutch law.

The first legislative proposal only includes elements that are necessary for the implementation of the European guideline. This includes the right to access to legal counsel in police interrogation and the right to inform a third party of their choice that they have been arrested.

The second legislative proposal includes additional rules for the first phase of the investigation. This includes the conduct of the arrest and arraignment and the period for which a suspect can be detained for questioning. The aim fore these rules is to make the right to legal counsel in police interrogation easier to implement in the first phase of the investigation.

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