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Erasmus Law Review

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Issue 1, 2020 Expand all abstracts
Article

Access_open Characteristics of Young Adults Sentenced with Juvenile Sanctions in the Netherlands

Keywords young adult offenders, juvenile sanctions for young adults, juvenile criminal law, psychosocial immaturity
Authors Lise J.C. Prop, André M. Van der Laan, Charlotte S. Barendregt e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since 1 April 2014, young adults aged 18 up to and including 22 years can be sentenced with juvenile sanctions in the Netherlands. This legislation is referred to as ‘adolescent criminal law’ (ACL). An important reason for the special treatment of young adults is their over-representation in crime. The underlying idea of ACL is that some young adult offenders are less mature than others. These young adults may benefit more from pedagogically oriented juvenile sanctions than from the deterrent focus of adult sanctions. Little is known, however, about the characteristics of the young adults sentenced with juvenile sanctions since the implementation of ACL. The aim of this study is to gain insight into the demographic, criminogenic and criminal case characteristics of young adult offenders sentenced with juvenile sanctions in the first year after the implementation of ACL. A cross-sectional study was conducted using a juvenile sanction group and an adult sanction group. Data on 583 criminal cases of young adults, sanctioned from 1 April 2014 up to March 2015, were included. Data were obtained from the Public Prosecution Service, the Dutch Probation Service and Statistics Netherlands. The results showed that characteristics indicating problems across different domains were more prevalent among young adults sentenced with juvenile sanctions. Furthermore, these young adults committed a greater number of serious offences compared with young adults who were sentenced with adult sanctions. The findings of this study provide support for the special treatment of young adult offenders in criminal law as intended by ACL.


Lise J.C. Prop
Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), Ministry of Justice and Security, Den Haag, the Netherlands.

André M. Van der Laan
Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), Ministry of Justice and Security, Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Charlotte S. Barendregt
Health and Youth Care Inspectorate, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Chijs Van Nieuwenhuizen
GGzE, Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Scientific Center for Care & Welfare (Tranzo),Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Too Immature to Vote?

A Philosophical and Psychological Argument to Lower the Voting Age

Keywords voting age, children’s rights, youth enfranchisement, democracy, votes at 16
Authors Tommy Peto
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article argues in favour of lowering the voting age to 16. First, it outlines a respect-based account of democracy where the right to vote is grounded in a respect for citizens’ autonomous capacities. It then outlines a normative account of autonomy, modelled on Rawls’s two moral powers, saying what criteria must be met for an individual to possess a (pro tanto) moral right to vote. Second, it engages with empirical psychology to show that by the age of 16 (if not earlier) individuals have developed all of the cognitive components of autonomy. Therefore, since 16- and 17-year-olds (and quite probably those a little younger) possess the natural features required for autonomy, then, to the extent that respect for autonomy requires granting political rights including the right to vote – and barring some special circumstances that apply only to them – 16- and 17-year-olds should be granted the right to vote.


Tommy Peto
University of Oxford.
Article

Access_open Age Barriers in Healthcare

Keywords age discrimination, age equality, health care
Authors Rachel Horton
AbstractAuthor's information

    Age limits, minimum and maximum, and both explicit and ‘covert’, are still used in the National Health Service to determine access to a range of health interventions, including infertility services and cancer screening and treatment. Evidence suggests that chronological age is used as a proxy for a host of characteristics in determining access to healthcare: as a proxy for the capacity of an individual to benefit from an intervention; for the type of harm that may result from an intervention; for the likelihood of such benefit or harm occurring; and, in some cases, for other indicators used to determine what may be in the patient’s interest. Age is used as a proxy in this way in making decisions about both individual patients and wider populations; it may be used where no better ‘marker’ for the relevant characteristic exists or – for reasons including cost, practicality or fairness – in preference to other available markers. This article reviews the justifications for using age in this way in the context of the existing legal framework on age discrimination in the provision of public services.


Rachel Horton
Lecturer University of Reading.
Article

Access_open Safeguarding the Dynamic Legal Position of Children: A Matter of Age Limits?

Reflections on the Fundamental Principles and Practical Application of Age Limits in Light of International Children’s Rights Law

Keywords age limits, dynamic legal position, children’s rights, maturity, evolving capacities
Authors Stephanie Rap, Eva Schmidt and Ton Liefaard
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article a critical reflection upon age limits applied in the law is provided, in light of the tension that exists in international children’s rights law between the protection of children and the recognition of their evolving autonomy. The main research question that will be addressed is to what extent the use of (certain) age limits is justified under international children’s rights law. The complexity of applying open norms and theoretically underdeveloped concepts as laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, related to the development and evolving capacities of children as rights holders, will be demonstrated. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child struggles to provide comprehensive guidance to states regarding the manner in which the dynamic legal position of children should be applied in practice. The inconsistent application of age limits that govern the involvement of children in judicial procedures provides states leeway in granting children autonomy, potentially leading to the establishment of age limits based on inappropriate – practically, politically or ideologically motivated – grounds.


Stephanie Rap
Stephanie Rap is assistant professor in children’s rights at the Department of Child Law, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.

Eva Schmidt
Eva Schmidt is PhD candidate at the Department of Child Law, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.

Ton Liefaard
Ton Liefaard is Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School and holds the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University, Leiden Law School, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Giving Children a Voice in Court?

Age Boundaries for Involvement of Children in Civil Proceedings and the Relevance of Neuropsychological Insights

Keywords age boundaries, right to be heard, child’s autonomy, civil proceedings, neuropsychology
Authors Mariëlle Bruning and Jiska Peper
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the last decade neuropsychological insights have gained influence with regard to age boundaries in legal procedures, however, in Dutch civil law no such influence can be distinguished. Recently, voices have been raised to improve children’s legal position in civil law: to reflect upon the minimum age limit of twelve years for children to be invited to be heard in court and the need for children to have a stronger procedural position.
    In this article, first the current legal position of children in Dutch law and practice will be analysed. Second, development of psychological constructs relevant for family law will be discussed in relation to underlying brain developmental processes and contextual effects. These constructs encompass cognitive capacity, autonomy, stress responsiveness and (peer) pressure.
    From the first part it becomes clear that in Dutch family law, there is a tortuous jungle of age limits, exceptions and limitations regarding children’s procedural rights. Until recently, the Dutch government has been reluctant to improve the child’s procedural position in family law. Over the last two years, however, there has been an inclination towards further reflecting on improvements to the child’s procedural rights, which, from a children’s rights perspective, is an important step forward. Relevant neuropsychological insights support improvements for a better realisation of the child’s right to be heard, such as hearing children younger than twelve years of age in civil court proceedings.


Mariëlle Bruning
Professor of Child Law at Leiden Law Faculty, Leiden University.

Jiska Peper
Assistant professor in the Developmental and Educational Psychology unit of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University.
Article

Access_open Is the CJEU discriminating in age discrimination cases?

Keywords age discrimination, old people, young people, complete life view, fair innings argument
Authors Beryl ter Haar
AbstractAuthor's information

    Claims have been made that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is more lenient in accepting age discriminating measures affecting older people than in those affecting younger people. This claim is scrutinised in this article, first, by making a quantitative analysis of the outcomes of the CJEU’s case law on age discrimination cases, followed by a qualitative analysis of the line of reasoning of the CJEU in these cases and concluding with an evaluation of the Court’s reasoning against three theoretical approaches that set the context for the assessment of the justifications of age discrimination: complete life view, fair innings argument and typical anti-discrimination approach. The analysis shows that the CJEU relies more on the complete life view approach to assess measures discriminating old people and the fair innings argument approach to assess measures discriminating young people. This results in old people often having to accept disadvantageous measures and young workers often being treated more favourably.


Beryl ter Haar
Beryl ter Haar is assistant professor and academic coordinator of the Advanced LL.M. Global and European Labour Law at Leiden University and visiting professor at the University of Warsaw.
Article

Access_open Age Limits in Youth Justice

A Comparative and Conceptual Analysis

Keywords youth justice, age limits, minimum age of criminal responsibility, age of criminal majority, legal comparison
Authors Jantien Leenknecht, Johan Put and Katrijn Veeckmans
AbstractAuthor's information

    In each youth justice system, several age limits exist that indicate what type of reaction can and may be connected to the degree of responsibility that a person can already bear. Civil liability, criminal responsibility and criminal majority are examples of concepts on which age limits are based, but whose definition and impact is not always clear. Especially as far as the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is concerned, confusion exists in legal doctrine. This is apparent from the fact that international comparison tables often show different MACRs for the same country. Moreover, the international literature often seems to define youth justice systems by means of a lower and upper limit, whereas such a dual distinction is too basic to comprehend the complex multilayer nature of the systems. This contribution therefore maps out and conceptually clarifies the different interpretations and consequences of the several age limits that exist within youth justice systems. To that extent, the age limits of six countries are analysed: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Northern Ireland. This legal comparison ultimately leads to a proposal to establish a coherent conceptual framework on age limits in youth justice.


Jantien Leenknecht
Jantien Leenknecht is PhD Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Johan Put
Johan Put is Full Professor at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.

Katrijn Veeckmans
Katrijn Veeckmans is PhD Fellow at KU Leuven, Institute of Social Law and Leuven Institute of Criminology.
Article

Access_open Age Limits in Law: Between Behavioural Science and Human Rights

Keywords age limits, behavioural science, human rights, age, juvenile justice
Authors Frank Weerman and Jolande uit Beijerse
Author's information

Frank Weerman
Frank Weerman is endowed professor Youth Criminology at the Erasmus School of Law and senior researcher at the NSCR (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement).

Jolande uit Beijerse
Jolande uit Beijerse is associate professor at the department of Criminal Law of the Erasmus School of Law.