Our vice-chair, Annemieke Wolthuis, just informed us about some good news coming from the RJ field in The Netherlands, where 1,5 million euros will be invested in penal mediation in the Dutch courts.
Finally 1,5 million for Mediation in Penal cases in the Netherlands
by Annemieke Wolthuis
Money is made available to continue the success full penal mediation pilots in the Dutch courts. The Dutch parliament voted on 8 December 2016 for an amendment to the budget of the Ministry of Security and Justice.
The Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Van der Steur decided earlier there was no budget available. Lobby of mediators, judges and politicians to change this was strong. A socialist member of the Dutch Parliament Recourt asked for an amendment and he got support from several other parties.
The pilots took place since 2014 in six courts and made it possible to refer criminal cases to mediators. That happened more than 2000 times and was positively evaluated by Intervict (University of Tilburg). Judges and public prosecutors see it as a valuable instrument. With the new decision in all courts such mediations will become possible and will make sure that mediators get paid. Jeroen Recourt (of the socialist party PvdA) pointed at positive effects of mediation, such as for offenders that they realize much better what the impact is of the harm they have caused, for victims it contributes often to empowerment or recovery and it is seen as a more easy way to arrange compensation. Judge Judith Uitermark, judge and project coordinator mediation in penal cases for the courts said recently at the launch of the Dutch association for penal mediators: “The mediations that are referred from the courts have a success rate of more than 80%.” She describes mediation in penal cases as ‘a bridge between victim and offender’ and sees it as an addition to speaking rights of victims in courts. It is also seen as good value for the community and contributes to feelings of safety. Mediator Janny Dierx and her colleagues emphasize the importance of solid payments for mediators who are investing much time and expertise in the professionalism of the sector.