Access to the law should be better, says the Ombudsman, ‘whether there are casuals’

A different style of governance and restoration of trust. These are things that the Hague considers very politically necessary to make a new cabinet possible. And to prevent another scandal like the payment affair. But what does it mean in concrete terms?

In any case, access to the law should be better, is one of the conclusions in the final report of Informer Herman Tjeenk Willink. โ€œIt is only with a strong democratic rule of law that fundamental problems can be effectively addressed, crises are addressed and citizens and government rely on each other,โ€ he wrote.

Someone who has been insisting on this for a long time is Reinier van Zutphen, the National Ombudsman. โ€œIf there is no access to justice, there will be casualties. Look at the payment affair. Its been talking about it for a long time, its now or never,โ€ he says in Nieuwsuur.

Code black for social advocature

For many Dutch people, an important route to law is the social advocacy – legal aid paid by the government. But it is precisely on that that, in recent years, a lot of savings has been made. In 2012, the government spent EUR 495 million on legal aid, and EUR 400 million in 2019.

As a

result, many lawyers have left the social system. If you have a legal problem but you dont have the money to pay a lawyer yourself, you now have less chance of getting legal aid. โ€œIt really is code black for social advocacy, code black for the court seeker,โ€ says Reinier Feiner, chairman of the Association Sociale Advocatuur Nederland.

The House of Representatives also sees the problem. The legal position of citizens must be strengthened and more money must be paid to social lawyers, as stated in a motion by the PvdA and the Green Left adopted yesterday. Van Zutphen: โ€œThat gives hope.โ€

However, the Ombudsman emphasises that there is more wrong with the relationship between civilian authorities than just a stripped out legal aid. Citizens are also compromised by the way they are perceived by drivers. โ€œOften, the powerful government no longer sees the citizen as someone entitled to proper treatment. The government has come to see the citizen as someone to be mistrusted, as a potential fraudster. That human image really needs to be put on.โ€

As long as that change is not made, victims of mistakes by the government cannot be helped well, fears of Zutphen. For example, the Tax Administration does not seem to be able to handle the compensation for the payment affair properly. โ€œThe systems have destroyed people and we are unable to get people out of destruction with the same systems.โ€

โ€œ That is the circle that needs to be broken. Ask people what they need to go through life recovered. Do not work only from misplaced assumptions and from far too harsh rules and laws.โ€

The Ombudsman also failed

Van Zutphen acknowledges that he too has dropped stabbing in recent years. โ€œIn the childcare supplement affair, we could have been working earlier. I have relied for a long time that when I write a report, the recommendations will be implemented. That has never happened endlessly. I need to pay better attention to that.โ€

Now, improving legal aid and a different style of administration are therefore high on the political agenda. Feiner: โ€œBut it is important: not words but deeds, I want to see it first.โ€

Look here the whole conversation with Van Zutphen: