Dutch Minister wants to force violent crime suspects to listen to victims

In the coming years the Dutch government, judges and criminal lawyers will take more measures to protect victims of crime and give them more rights, Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection announced on Thursday - the European day of the victim. One such measure is to oblige suspects of violent- or sex crimes to attend their trial and listen to the victims should they choose to speak, NOS reports.

A legislative proposal to this effect will be sent to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, by the end of this year. This proposal also states that victims' step-families may speak in court. And that the family of murder victims will be allowed to speak at the conditional termination of the offender's period of psychiatric treatment, as the Association for Parents of a Murdered Child requested last year. 

Other measures are also being prepared, according to the broadcaster. 

Over the summer, the Council for the Judiciary will visit all courts in the country to make sure their facilities are well organized for victims. In April criminal judges and legal assistants will be offered a course in which they will learn how to better deal with crime victims and how to better protect their interests. Next year an information portal will be created through which victims can follow their own cases online. 

The police will put more man hours into assessing whether people who come in to report a crime are at risk of "repeated victimization" - whether they are more likely to be victimized again due to their circumstances. And Slachtofferhulp Nederland - the organization that provides support to victims - will think of ways to also reach victims who do not report to the police. 

More assistance will be offered to victims who still have not been compensated for their damages after the entire legal process. This only applies to around 16 percent of victims, but usually involves people who suffered a lot of damage or have complicated damage claims.