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A new prosecution process for abuse of office by MPs and politicians

Last week, the Dutch Council of Ministers adopted the decision to modernise the process of prosecuting politicians. This action was taken following the Russian bribery scandal involving Dutch politicians. Wim Voermans, Professor of Constitutional Law, discusses this in Dutch daily newspaper ‘NRC’.

Article 119 of the Dutch Constitution requires the prosecution of suspects to begin with a complaints procedure at the Supreme Court. Professor Voermans calls this a ‘draconian measure’. Nobody has ever been prosecuted under this article, which dates back to 1855.

Criminal law

Under the Dutch cabinet’s proposed amendment, the prosecution process will take place through ordinary criminal law courts. An appeal may then be submitted to a higher court on the condition that a parliamentary majority votes in favour of an investigation. Moreover, criminal law proceedings give the defendant more rights than in complaints procedures and also allow the defendant to submit counterevidence, reports the NRC.

Fokkens Committee

This new process follows the 2021 Fokkens Committee report (in Dutch) that contained recommendations on modernising the current procedure. Subject to certain conditions, the proposed change first of all needs to be approved by the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives.

More information

Read the full NRC article (in Dutch, €)

Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm through Unsplash

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