in Europe

Procedural Rights of Juveniles Suspected or Accused in the European Union

National Research Report / Netherlands

A.E. Barendsen & M.A. Vegter
File language:
English Dutch

This report has been developed within the framework of “Procedural Rights of Juveniles Suspected or Accused in the EU (PRO-JUS)”, a regional project implemented in 5 EU Member States (Belgium, France, Hungary, Spain and The Netherlands) under the coordination of the Terre des hommes Regional Office for Central and South East Europe based in Hungary in partnership with Defence for Children International (Belgium), Hors La Rue (France), Rights International Spain and Defence for Children International (The Netherlands).

The PRO-JUS project aims to examine the situation of foreign children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings since their extra vulnerability may hamper their enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the three procedural directives of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU directives 2010/64, 2012/13, 2013/48).

This report covers the Netherlands and constitutes one of the 5 national reports developed as part of the PRO-JUS project. The report is the result of a research that has combined desk research, analysis and semi-structured interviews with adult stakeholders and children. Developed according to a common research methodology that was employed in all of the 5 project countries, the report presents the research findings and identifies noteworthy practices as well as recommendations. In line with the aims of the research, the report also discusses the factors that affect and hamper the effective enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the 3 EU directives.

Research findings:

A language barrier increases vulnerability, and this occurs relatively more often in cases involving persons who do not possess Dutch nationality. This came forward during the research and is also reflected in the report (not every non-Dutch child, by definition, has insufficient understanding of the Dutch language; not every child with a Dutch nationality, by definition, has sufficient understanding of the Dutch language). 

Based on the analysis of the legal framework and policies, it is not obvious that there is a distinction made between the allocation of rights to Dutch and non-Dutch children. However, based on the interviews conducted during the research process, a distinction between the two categories of children does occur in practice. 


  • Ensure consultation with both the interpreters and other stakeholders, on which minimum requirements must be fulfilled to be able to offer interpreting and translation work of a “good’’ quality and adjust the requirements for registration in the register accordingly. 
  • Ensure that more attention is given to the implementation of a specialized sign language interpreter for children, who are deaf or have a hearing impediment. For this purpose, it is important that officers conducting interrogations have more knowledge of the language development of these groups of children;
  • Ensure that the independence of the interpreter is maintained by not using the same interpreter who is used at the police interrogation for the confidential conversation between the child suspect and his lawyer;
  • Ensure that when evaluating a request for translation of a document, the importance of the child suspect being able to understand the information, is a first consideration, not the costs associated with the translation;
  • Ensure that punishment orders with regard to misdemeanours can also be translated;
  • Verify whether sufficient appropriate information material is available;
  • Ensure that parents/legal representatives are informed of the deprivation of liberty of their child from the moment when that deprivation of liberty begins, and not from the time the child is released;
  • Ensure that parents/legal representatives have free access to the children;
  • Offer the child access to a lawyer prior to the police interrogation and when the Public Prosecutor considers settling the case directly or after the pre-trial detention (police custody). Further, it is necessary to ensure that the information on access to legal representation is provided by a lawyer;
  • Ensure that lawyers who assist child suspects follow specific trainings and courses which address the development of and interaction with children.