On 2 May 2018, the Dutch Council of State ruled in favor of the injured parties in the so-called Wilders criminal case in a procedure initiated against the Dutch Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand). Within the context of the Wilders-case, the injured parties had engaged lawyers specialized in the representation of victims. However, the Legal Aid Board – the organization responsible for legal aid in the Netherlands – stated that these parties were not entitled to legal aid. In practice, this would have meant that the injured parties would have had to conduct the procedures without a lawyer. The district court of Amsterdam had previously held that the injured parties were entitled to legal aid in the Wilders-case, but the Legal Aid Board had filed an appeal against that verdict.
The injured parties were represented in these procedures by lawyer Tom de Boer.
The Wilders-case concerns the ‘less Moroccans’ statements that politician Geert Wilders made during the city council elections in 2014. Wilders was prosecuted for having made those statements and was convicted by the district court of The Hague. The appeals case will commence this month. Various Moroccan organizations have joined the criminal case as injured parties who have suffered damages as a result of the statements by Wilders. Lawyers Göran Sluiter and Barbara van Straaten are representing several of the injured parties in the criminal case. As a result of the ruling by the Council of State, they can do so on the basis of legal aid.
The verdict by the Council of State concludes several years of legal procedures. It is an important victory for victims’ rights in the Dutch criminal procedure.
The verdict by the Council of State is available here.