Consular assistance?

Nobody wants to be arrested for a criminal charge in a foreign country. It's the nightmare for people living, working or travelling abroad. It's an unreal experience to face prosecution under an unfamiliar legal system far from home, family and friends. In many cases people have to face barriers of language, culture and perception. Our lawyers:

  • only work with competent interpreters who are familiar with the Dutch legal system
  • watch for signs of communication problems 
  • will explain the basic role of the legal representation in The Netherlands and the concept of attorney-client privilege, using clear and understandable language and non-technical terms
  • will explain the Dutch legal procedures
  • are prepared to retain additional experts to assist, such as cross-cultural specialists
  • will only on request of the client ask for consular involvement

Consular assistance can bridge cultural issues and in many cases the assistance can be a potential source to the defense. Our firm established a good working relation with many embassies, consulates and their consular officers.  The law office of Kaarls Criminal Defense Lawyers is situated in The Hague in the embassy quarter meaning that our lawyers have short lines to the consular officers of almost all countries. Only on request of the client our lawyers will contact the consulate.
Consular intervention can be crucial in providing additional resources to our lawyers in order to defend adequately a foreign citizen facing criminal charges by providing access to:

  • mitigating evidence 
  • witnesses
  • cultural expertise 
  • diplomatic influence
  • other forms of assistance

International law recognizes the vulnerability of foreign nationals facing prosecution and imprisonment abroad. Consular officers have the right to visit, communicate with and assist their nationals who are detained or imprisoned abroad. The requirements under 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations:

  • the local authorities must inform detained foreigners without delay of their right to have their consular post notified of their detention and their right to communicate with their consular representatives
  • at the request of the detainee, the authorities must then notify the consular post of the arrest without delay and permit consular access to the detained national
  • consular officers have the right to be promptly informed of the detention at the nationals request, to communicate, correspond, and visit with their detained nationals, to arrange for their national's legal representation, and to provide other appropriate assistance with the detainees consent  

An intervention of the consulate serves three basic purposes:

  • humanitarian: consular officers provide the detainee with access to the outside world, for example by communicating with family and friends and ensure that they have the basic necessities of life
  • protective: consular visits help to ensure that detained foreign nationals are not discriminated or mistreated
  • legal assistance: consular officers acquaint their nationals with their rights and the basic procedures under the local legal system

Consular officers may attend (closed) court hearings and can for example provide access for our lawyers to mitigating evidence and witnesses abroad. Be aware that consular representatives do not act as surrogate defense lawyers for their nationals, nor may they serve as a detainees legal representative. The consular function can only be complementary to that of the defense counsel. Foreign nationals in custody can always decline any form of consular assistance. Our attorneys are experienced to give adequate advice how to proceed in delicate matters.

Why Kaarls Criminal Defense Lawyers? Read here.