Public defenders take Justice Min. to court over poverty wages
The associations for public defenders NVSA and NVJSA filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state over Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice and his rules for representing suspects during police interrogation. According to the public defenders, the compensation is way too low and the rules violate European regulations, broadcaster NOS reports. From March 1st suspects may have an attorney present during police questioning. The Supreme Court made this ruling after years of legal proceedings brought by public defense attorneys. The Ministry of Security and Justice came up with rules for this practice, but the lawyers are not satisfied with it. Firstly they are dissatisfied with the compensation they will get for representing a client during police questioning. They are paid a standard amount of 158.41 euros. That is equivalent to 1.5 hours work, and it stays the same regardless of how long the questioning takes or how many times the police question the suspect. Only in very extreme and exceptional cases the amount may be doubled. According to the public defenders, the interrogations almost take longer than 1.5 hours and in big cases several interrogations of 4 hours plus are not unheard of. The associations think that this low fee is economically irresponsible. They fear that it will result in specialized public defenders simply refusing to represent a client during police questioning. The associations want the lawyers to be paid by hour. The public defenders also have a problem with the rules surrounding representing a client while the police are interrogating him. For example, they are not allowed to say anything during the interrogation and can only speak to their client before hand and afterwards. If they do not comply, they are removed from the interrogation room. According to the associations, these rules are against EU regulations and case law. The lawsuit will appear next week at the earliest, according to NOS.