Reaction of the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (OM) to the report of the Procurator General at the Supreme Court on witness protection:

Today, the Procurator General at the Netherlands Supreme Court presented the research report on Duty of Care and Witness Protection. The Board of Procurators General expresses its appreciation for the research focusing on the implementation of the duty of care by the Public Prosecution Service within the framework of the witness protection program. 'It is a balanced report that will help the OM further professionalise witness protection. It also accelerates the path that had already been taken, including the drafting of legislation that provides the OM with clear guidelines to fulfil its tasks effectively', according to Rinus Otte, chairman of the Board of Procurators General.

It is of great importance to the OM that in this study the Procurator General at the Supreme Court 'has not found any evidence to support the claim that in the past ten years there have been cases of 'purchased' statements in negotiations with witnesses regarding their protection measures. This was regularly a point of discussion in criminal cases involving key witnesses.

Another important finding for the Board is that the value of the statements does not determine the content of the protection agreement. The Procurator General states that 'in general, it has not been shown that more is offered on the protection level as the investigative interest increases.' In addition, the study shows that the OM fulfils its duty of care towards the witnesses.


At the same time, the Board agrees with the researchers that there is still room for improvement. The recommendations made by the Procurator General are in line with the improvement plans that have been initiated within the OM. The Board endorses the recommendations of the Procurator General at the Supreme Court and will use them to further professionalise the execution of tasks by the OM in the field of witness protection.

It is very important for the Public Prosecution Service that there is a legal framework for witness protection. This framework must include, among other things, the requirements which the Public Prosecution Service and a witness must comply with when an agreement is concluded and what the criteria are for granting a loan. The idea behind witness protection is that all measures taken are aimed at allowing someone to stand on their own two feet. This also applies when a loan is granted. The Board agrees that careful attention should be paid to the way in which loans are handled, including the execution of agreements on repayment. The Board notes, however, that the loans in question generally have a long term, so repayment is not yet an issue in most cases.

Some recommendations of the Procurator General at the Supreme Court to the OM can only be implemented and completed after the relevant laws and regulations have been established. Other recommendations can be addressed more quickly. For example, parallel to the process for the legal framework for witness protection, the Witness Protection Instruction will be updated and transformed into a directive, making it public for everyone. The Board attaches great importance to this directive being adhered to. This also applies to properly documenting decision-making in witness protection processes.

The Board highly appreciates the colleagues who have been involved in witness protection in recent years. Otte: 'It was pioneering work', as the Procurator General at the Supreme Court writes. 'The allocation of the witness protection process was vulnerable and we will make sure that it will be strengthened in the future.'