Justice Ministry scraps mediation in criminal cases: Report

From today there will be no more mediation between offenders and victims in Dutch criminal cases - The Ministry of Security and Justice's money for this part of the legal system is done and running trials have been stopped, Trouw reports. No money is allocated for mediation in 2017.

The Public Prosecution Service and the Council for Judiciary are shocked by the decision, according to the newspaper. They were hoping that mediation would be made available for all of the Nehterlands. They are also surprised, because Miinister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice seemed entusiastic about mediation last year when he was still a parliamentarian.

"The judges find the stopping of mediation disappointing", Frits Bakker, chairman of the Council for Judiciary, said to Trouw. "This is a statutory dut of the Public Prosecutor and that ust be carried out. He points to the 2012 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure which basically orders the Prosecutor to promote mediation and judges to take the results into account when imposing sentences. The better the result of mediation, the lower the punishment can be.

For example, a case in which a boy broke into his neighbors' house. The mediation resulted in a heatfeld apology and the Prosecutor could demand 100 hours of community service, 60 hours of which conditionally suspended. Instead of the full 120 hours. 

Mediation also prevented a sexual assault case in a Turkish-Dutch family from spiralling into revenge. Tthe mediators were able to restore the relationship between the family members.

And the association of mediatiors VMSZ reported success in a domestic violence case, with an imminent child abductioin as a complicating factor. The mediators ended the possible kidnapping with granting visitation rights and the prosecutor could dismiss the case under a number of conditions.

"The judges are positive about their experience. They want this valuable tool to be deployed across the country in future. Crimes cause problems that often can be solved very limitedly in a criminal case." The Public Prosecution Service would also like to continue to offer mediation, in particular to avoid new conflicts between suspect and victim. Both call mediation a "major innovation".

Bakker doesn't think that the cessation of mediation will increase the number of cases in criminal court or cause a massive deate. "But it is a pity that the initiative is stalled by a small financial problem." he said to the newspaper.