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Pre-Trial Detention in the Dutch Juvenile Justice System

On 25 January 2018, at 16:15 hrs, Yannick van den Brink will defend his doctoral thesis titled ‘Voorlopige hechtenis in het Nederlands jeugdstrafrecht’ (‘Pre-trial detention in the Dutch juvenile justice system’) at the Academy Building of Leiden University. The doctoral research is supervised by Professor Ton Liefaard and Professor Mariëlle Bruning.

Yannick van den Brink.
Yannick van den Brink

Van den Brink’s doctoral research analyses the use of pre-trial detention in the Dutch juvenile justice system, through normative and empirical research methods, in light of the core international and European children’s rights and human rights principle that prohibits unlawful and arbitrary detention.

Qualitative empirical research methods have been used to analyse the judicial decision-making process. Observations during 225 pre-trial court hearings at five youth courts were conducted to find out which factors judges find decisive when ordering a juvenile’s pre-trial detention or alternatives to pre-trial detention. Further insights into  perceptions on the pre-trial detention of juveniles and possible alternatives are provided by 71 in-depth interviews with specialised judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers, social workers and other professional stakeholders.

The findings of the research show that pre-trial detention serves various functions and ‘shadow functions’ and thereby occupies an important position in the functioning of the Dutch juvenile justice system. However, the research also highlights that within this system the protection of juvenile suspects against unlawful and arbitrary pre-trial detention is not optimally safeguarded. Based on the analyses of the legal and empirical research findings, the doctoral thesis concludes that revising the current framework for juvenile pre-trial detention decision making under Dutch law is required to better safeguard accordance with core children’s rights and human rights standards.

Ultimately, Van den Brink’s thesis introduces a new legislative framework for juvenile pre-trial detention decisions. The thesis also provides recommendations for policymakers and judicial decision makers on how juvenile pre-trial detention can be applied in a manner which is in line with children’s rights and human rights standards that aim to protect juveniles against unlawful and arbitrary detention, without disregarding the various other (e.g. societal) interests that may be at stake when pre-trial detention is considered.

Symposia

On 12 April 2018 the Department of Child Law and the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology of Leiden University organize a symposium on pre-trial detention in the Netherlands titled ‘Voorlopige hechtenis in Nederland en daarbuiten’ (in Dutch). On 13 April 2018 the Department of Child Law organizes the international symposium ‘Deprivation of Liberty of Children in The Justice System – Towards A Global Research Agenda’ (in English).

Professor Ton Liefaard and Professor Mariëlle Bruning on Yannick van den Brink

Liefaard: 'Yannick van den Brink has clearly and meticulously set out how judicial decisions on the pre-trial detention of youths come about and how these stand up when international children’s rights are considered.'

Bruning: 'His PhD research clearly demonstrates how combining legal and criminological research can be mutually productive providing valuable insights. In this case, it has led to an integrated and powerful argument for the necessity of legislative amendment to make the pre-trial detention of youths more ‘children’s rights-proof’.'

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