Lawyers for Lawyers contribution to the EESC report on the rule of law in the Netherlands.
20 June 2024

Lawyers for Lawyers contribution to the EESC report on the rule of law in the Netherlands.

the Netherlands

On 7 and 8 February 2024, six members of the European Economic and Social Council (EESC) visited the Netherlands under the auspices of the Ad hoc group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law (FRRL). The delegation met with several representatives of civil society, the media and legal professions, as well as the Dutch authorities, during six thematic meetings. Lawyers for Lawyers was invited to meet with the FRRL-group delegates during the session on the ‘Rule of Law’ on 8 February.  In the meeting, L4L highlighted concerns regarding the increased threats faced by Dutch lawyers, including harassment, discrediting public rhetoric and infringements of lawyer-client confidentiality. A report that was prepared by the FRRL-group based on the received input, has now been published.

In the report, which covers a total of five themes (including freedom of association and assembly, non-discrimination, and the rule of law), the FRRL-group reflects on the concerns raised by participants about the degradation of the rule of law in the Netherlands. Besides highlighting the negative effects of budgetary cuts on the quality of- and access to justice, the report notes that the general polarisation of Dutch society had led to increased pressure on judges and lawyers. It illustrates this by referring to growing rhetoric which associates lawyers with their clients’ alleged crimes, ‘for example associating them with organised crime or the so-called “asylum industry”’. In addition, the report speaks of the need for the authorities to mitigate increased on- and off-line threats perpetrated by third parties and guarantee the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality amid building pressure.

In response, the Dutch government issued several general observations and reiterated that ensuring and strengthening access to justice is one of its key priorities. No particular reference was made to lawyers. The report by the EESC was transmitted to the Dutch Parliament. Read the full report here.

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