Leave to appeal in criminal proceedings : intervention

Leave to appeal in criminal proceedings

Under Dutch law it is not always possible to appeal a criminal conviction. In some cases, it is necessary to request leave to appeal which gives the court opportunity to deny leave if they feel the appeal is not in the interests of justice. This system lacks procedural guarantees; defendants often do not get the information they need to effectively request leave to appeal. Without this information, the court cannot examine the request for leave on its full merits.

The Human Rights Committee has twice found the Netherlands in violation of Article 14(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) due to its leave to appeal system. In Mennen v. Netherlands and Timmer v. Netherlands, the Committee held that this system fails to provide adequate facilities for the preparation of the proceedings, and provides inadequate conditions for a genuine review. They determined that the Dutch state needs to conform the legal framework to the ICCPR, and is obliged to prevent similar violations in the future.

The Dutch government has plans to abolish the leave to appeal system in criminal proceedings. However, this may take some time to come in to effect, leaving defendants to encounter the same potential violations in the mean time. Willem Jebbink, the lawyer that conducted the above-mentioned proceedings, filed summary proceedings to deter the application of the leave to appeal system. The summary judgment took place on April 1, 2015, at The Hague District Court. Two weeks later, the court ruled that there is no unconditional right for leave to appeal in criminal proceedings. As such, the system does not necessarily breach Article 6 of the ECHR and Article 14 of the ICCPR.

The PILP has intervened in these proceedings and drafted an amicus curiae on the human rights aspects of the case.