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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 Criminal Justice master’s program


Traditionally, the criminal justice systems of European countries have 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, national criminal justice systems are under ever growing influence and pressure from European and international developments. In order to ensure a secure EU area of freedom, security and justice, where Member States effectively cooperate in fighting crime and safeguard rights, various EU-legislation regarding minimum harmonization of criminal law and criminal procedural law in has come into force. 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.
This course aims to reflect on the meaning of this European influence 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 defense rights, the principle of legality, victims rights and the rules of evidence. 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

After finishing this course, you are able to

  • Explain how different forms of criminality can be harmonized in the European Union and evaluate whether a given offence should be harmonized, referring to legal bases and using subsidiarity and proportionality as benchmarks;

  • Explain how a common system of cooperation in criminal law enforcement developed within the European Union and draw implications from this development for the various actors within this system;

  • Compare the different sources of procedural rights, explain their meaning in relation to their legal context and indicate which (problematic) consequences result from a multiplicity of procedural rights sources;

  • Evaluate the influence of human rights and fundamental freedoms, stemming from the ECHR and European Union law, on (parts of) national criminal justice systems;

  • Illustrate the complex interaction between national and European legal and policy dynamics in the criminal justice field by writing two coherent research papers based on literature research and case-law analysis.


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. These lectures will be provided by both the teaching staff as well as by guests speakers who have specific practical experiences with regard to 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. The presence and active participation of students druing the excursion is required. Besides the lectures, students will also have to write two research papers during the course. These will be discussed during two working groups

Assessment method

  • Your final grade will be based on a written exam, consisting of open questions (60%) and a paper (40%). Each individual component of the final grade has to be completed with a passing result.

  • All components should be at least 5,5 in order to complete the course successfully. All grades only hold for the present academic year.

  • There will be a retake for the written exam mentioned above.

  • Depending on the number of participants, the course coordinator can decide that this retake will be an oral examination. In that case, you will be notified in time.

Procedure for handing in your paper

  • The paper must be submitted via SafeAssign (Blackboard).


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

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

Recommended Literature

  • MacCormick, N. (Latest Edition) Institutions of Law: An Essay in Legal Theory. Oxford: oxford University Press.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: Mr. B.J.G. Leeuw

  • Work address: Law Faculty, Steenschuur 25, Room C1.21

  • Telephone number: 071 – 527 7462

  • 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