Thursday, 7 May 2015 - 13:05
Lawyer: Max. security prison violates human rights
According the lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops, the High Security Prison in Vught violates a lawyer's fundamental right to unimpeded access to their client. The prison also violates the right to a fair trial by eavesdropping on conversations of experts called in by a lawyer in the preparation of a criminal case. Knoops is a professor of international law ans was the lawyer representing Lau Geeraets, who committed suicide in the high security prison last week. According to Knoops, the walls of safety glass in the prison does not only separate prisoners from visitors, but also from the prison personnel, doctors, spiritual counselors and even their lawyers, the Volkskrant reports. "I sometimes have to hold the criminal file against the wall page by page." Knoops said to the newspaper. "A client has to bend over a bolted down table to read everything. In the high security prison I can not prepare a criminal case in a similar manner as I can in a normal remand center, or even at the international criminal tribunals where I perform." Knoops is calling on politicians to set up an independent commission to assess the high security prison regime on the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. This call is supported by the Dutch Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NVSA). "We have to communicate with clients through a glass wall, via a machine" Geert-Jan van Oosten, NVSA secretary, said to the Volkskrant. "Consulting rooms are hung with listening devices. The feeling that at any moment someone can turn a switch and eavesdrop on you, is disastrous for the consultation between a lawyer and his client." The Ministry of Security and Justice stated that prisoners can file complaints with the Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice, and that "the board still deems that the regime holds and we see no reason to change it." On Wednesday lawyer André Seebregts, who represents a number of suspected jihadists imprisoned in the terrorist department in Vught, announced that his clients would turn to court if they do not get a milder regime. These prisoners complain about the "humiliating" strip searches they have to endure every time they come into contact with the outside world. For them these searches are enough reason to not want to go to court to defend themselves.