Public Prosecution Services in the Netherlands: How Independent Are They?

In response to the CJEU interpretation of ‘issuing judicial authority’ in the European arrest warrant (EAW) context, the Dutch Surrender Act was swiftly amended: the competence to issue EAW’s has now been moved from public prosecutors to investigative judges. This was considered necessary because under Dutch law prosecutors can be subject to instructions from the Minister of Justice. However, the amendment of the Surrender Act leaves unaffected that in everyday criminal cases prosecutors remain exposed to the risk of being subject to instructions from the Minister. The desirability of it is now being discussed country-wide, especially since politician Geert Wilders claims political interference in his criminal trial for discrimination and inciting hatred. This contribution discusses Dutch law on the matter as well as its rationale. It subsequently considers whether adjustment of the law would actually prevent the occurrence of political instructions concerning prosecutorial decisions.