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Criminal Justice, Human Rights and EU Criminal Law


Admission requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the master program Criminal Justice.


Traditionally, the criminal justice systems of European countries have always had their own specific and characteristic system of protection. At their core, these systems are sometimes related, but have further developed in a long and dynamic national process. However, increasingly national criminal justice systems are under ever growing influence and pressure from European and international developments.

One of the reasons for this is also that the nature and extent of (organized) crime is changing. By their nature, some new forms of crime are transborder offences and require an international approach. Combating these forms of crime therefore requires European coordination and harmonization. Also, in order to compensate for the negative (criminal) effects of the abolishment of internal border controls in the EU (no more internal passport controls) EU competence in the area of justice and home affairs was created. In order to ensure a secure EU area of freedom, security and justice, where Member States effectively cooperate in fighting crime and safeguard rights, the EU and its Member States have shared competences. As a result, various EU-legislation regarding minimumharmonisation of criminal law and criminal procedural law has come into force. The case law of the European Court of Justice, which reviews the proper implementation of this legislation, will also become of more importance since the last adaption to the founding Treaties of the EU by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, which gave this Court a common jurisdiction for the area of freedom, security and justice in the EU instead of a jurisdiction based on (voluntary) Declarations of the Member States.

Besides these developments at EU level, the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) also has a dominant influence on national criminal justice systems. Both through the application of the rights of the Convention on the national level, as well as through the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Firstly this course aims to reflect on the meaning of this European influence (both EU and ECHR) on national criminal justice systems of the member states of the European Union and the Council of Europe, particularly for the system of the Netherlands. For instance regarding defence rights, the principle of legality, victims rights and the rules of evidence. These consequences will be put in a more broader perspective when discussing the differences between common law and civil law jurisdictions.

Secondly attention will also be paid to the developments of specific European and EU instruments that influenced the national criminal justice systems. For instance the Council of Europe Conventions and the harmonizing EU legislation on terrorism and human trafficking. The increasing significance of policy documents in the EU (impact assessments, EU-policy cycles, Serious Organized Threat Assessments) as a foundation for new legislation will be a main topic of interest as well. Finally, the functioning of midterm reviews and evaluation cycles will be reviewed.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The objective of the course is to provide the students with insight on the mechanisms on the European level that influence the national Criminal Justice Systems and, secondly, the way in which the authorities on the national level respond to this European influence.

Achievement levels

After the completion of the course the student should have:

  • Knowledge and insight on the for the European Union most relevant forms of transborder crime that has led to harmonization of national laws; – Knowledge and insight into the development of a mutual system of combating crime within the European Union and the actors within this system; – Knowledge and insight into the systematic differences between criminal justice systems on the national level within the European Union, especially from a perspective of common and civil law jurisdictions; – Advanced knowledge of the influence of the ECtHR and the European Union on (parts of) the national criminal justice systems in Europe, especially in the Netherlands.


The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.

Mode of instruction

The first and basic element of this course is the traditional lecture, during the course a total of 15 lectures will be given. These lectures will be provided by both the teaching staff as well as by guests who have specific experiences in the field of the European Union and/or the European Court of Human Rights. It is required for students to prepare for these lectures by reading the assigned literature. Also part of the program is a field trip to the heart of EU Criminal Law Policy: Brussels. The aim of this excursion is to organize a workshop to illustrate how EU legislation is created and what role national governments play in this process. A second field trip will provide for a workshop in The Hague to see how EU legislation is implemented in the Netherlands. Both fieldtrips will last 1 day. The presence and active participation of students in these workshops is required. Furthermore, the students will have to present the papers that they have written on a topic covered by this course. They will also act as discussant for a paper made by another student. These presentations will take place during the final four lectures.

Assessment method

The students final grade will be based on a written exam (50%), the paper (30%) and the presentation of the paper (20%)(this includes the students participation as a discussant)

The paper must be submitted via safe assign (Blackboard)


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Assigned literature will be announced on Blackboard and in the course guideline that will also be published on Blackboard.


via uSis. ### Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Mr. B.J.G. Leeuw

  • Work address: Law Faculty, Steenschuur 25, Room C1.21* Contact information: By phone and email

  • Telephone number: 071 – 5278509

  • Email:


  • Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology

  • Department: Criminology

  • Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30

  • Telephone secretariat: 071 – 527 74 62

  • E-mail:



Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO