Damage report casts doubt on expansion of tolerance program

Damage report casts doubt on expansion of tolerance program

The system of protecting relatives of repentance witnesses urgently needs to be overhauled, the Dutch Security Council (OVV) yesterday decided on three purges involving amnesty witness Nabil B. The devastating report casts a shadow over the planned expansion of the regret witness system.

Minister Yeşilgöz (Justice and Security) also announced in November last year that he wanted to persuade lesser offenders to be key witnesses. He gave an example of an accountant, notary or port officer dealing with the underground.

If someone testifies against the mafia in the underworld, there is also a plan that could circumvent the entire sentence. However, only if the whistleblower faces a maximum sentence of six years: a 50 percent reduction in sentence, the previous maximum sentence, applies to offenders serving more than six years in prison.

“A Bitter Pill”

The House of Representatives has yet to decide on the plan. However, experts believe that the ministry must first solve the problems in the current system. According to attorney Sander Janssen, the critical OVV report does not appear out of nowhere.

Ten years ago, he wrote his thesis on the role of key witnesses in criminal cases. “A large part of today’s problems are already described in it. And ten years later everything goes so wrong, it’s a bitter pill,” Janssen says in the NOS Radio 1 Journal.

The lead witness is Nabil B.’s brother, Derk Wiersum, B’s lawyer, and de Vries, according to his confidant, Peter R. OVV. According to the Research Council, the so-called “surveillance and security system” needs to be reformed to take action against organized crime.

In his first reaction yesterday, Minister Yeşilgöz emphasized that this reform has already been started. From 2021 onwards, additional investments have been made to protect people. In a few weeks, the Minister of Justice will give a detailed response to the report.

Important resource

Despite the shortcomings, the use of remorse witnesses is an important tool to bring serious criminals to justice, says Jan Crijns, a professor of criminal law at Leiden University. “Some top tiers of criminal organizations have sealed themselves up so much that you can’t get there just by wiretapping or traditional investigative methods.”

According to him, since 2006, when the current rules came into force, there have been between 10 and 15 witnesses to leniency in the Netherlands. That is why the method is used in a limited way: only for the most serious category of offenders.

two hats

According to Crijns, the rules for using remorse witnesses abroad are not much different from those in our country. Except for one point: “Abroad, the more the issue of security is removed from the question of criminal law, the better regulated it is,” says the professor.

The public prosecutor’s office is not only responsible for the protection of key witnesses, but also for the criminal prosecution of those against whom the informant testifies. Lawyer Janssen says it is undesirable for the prosecution to wear two hats. “Because then one may lose interest in the other.”

Also in 2021, the Bos committee criticized the mixing of roles in the prosecution. He says justice is being worked on, but it’s still unclear what will change.

For OM boss Gerrit van der Burg, the tolerance system definitely has a future. “We want to use smaller actors more in the future in criminal organizations,” he said on Nieuwsuur yesterday. “But there is so much more to do.”

Watch the full interview here:

Van der Burg cited an example of a leniency agreement that failed due to security risks. According to him, the “safety degree” of remorse witnesses “has become more robust” in recent years.

Lawyer Janssen: “I think you should seriously consider under what circumstances you want to use key witnesses.” He says this can be very useful for serious organized crime. “But it has been shown that when people on this side are prepared for such wide-ranging forms of violence and such a wide circle around a key witness, you as a government cannot secure all that.”

Source: NOS