Proclamation inaugural lecture Jolande uit Beijerse

On 10 June 2022, Jolande uit Beijerse, Professor of Judicial Youth Interventions at Erasmus School of Law, delivered her inaugural lecture: Children's rights in the law, but also in practice, in front of a large audience consisting of criminal- and youth law experts, criminologists and educators and experts from the field of juvenile justice. In her lecture, Uit Beijerse explains the dynamic interaction between Juvenile Justice and Youth Protection Law and advocates a renewed focus on a just juvenile justice system, from the perspective of the juvenile.

During the introduction of the Inaugural lecture Harriët Schelhaas, dean of Erasmus School of Law, emphasised the social importance of the chair: “Rotterdam is a dynamic city with guts, but also a youthful city in which many young people have to deal with poverty, school dropout and unemployment. Vulnerable juveniles, for whom a criminal career is sometimes more accessible than appropriate help.  Only a week ago, the juvenile courts sounded the alarm about the lack of guidance and aftercare following a stay in a juvenile institution. Specialised youth assistance is often not available in time or not at all. It is exactly this type of problem that Jolande uit Beijerse is working on by bridging the gap between juvenile law and practice.”

The interaction between Juvenile Criminal Law and Youth Protection Law

During her lecture, Uit Beijerse highlights the many developments that have taken place in the field of judicial interventions in recent years. At the end of the 19th century, it became clear that criminal offences often originated from problematic family situations, such as neglect, and therefore required a specific approach: “The Criminal Law for juveniles and the Civil Law for Youth Protection were consciously created in conjunction, whereby an interaction was possible and the youth protection law was preferred”, according to Uit Beijerse. However, by 1995, the year the International Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified, little remained of the juvenile justice system built up in law and practice in the Netherlands. Both areas of the law were strictly separated, as a result of which juveniles with issuers within the two different systems had to deal with different judges and legal positions. This means that interventions are not always coordinated and there is no one who oversees the whole process.  

Focus on the juveniles’ perspective

Uit Beijerse argues in favour of putting the youth judge back in position and for a personal approach in which professionals keep asking themselves how they would like their own child to be treated if it might end up in this situation: "This helps to step outside of the system." Uit Beijerse aims to approach juvenile justice from the context of youth protection law, its underlying principles and their effect in practice: "It is the experiences that juveniles have within the justice system, from their personal perspective, that I want to examine more closely. Because I believe that this is the key to a just juvenile justice system, in the interests of juveniles, but also of society as a whole."

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Want to know more about juvenile (protection) law? Read the extensive interview of Follow the Money with Jolande uit Beijerse here or click here for a Volkskrant column on this subject.

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