The role of the victim in the criminal trial process has evolved considerably in recent decades. On a European level, an important driver has been the EU Directive 2012/29/EU, according to which European countries are legally bound to afford certain rights to crime victims. In the Netherlands, the EU Directive has instigated several extensions of existing victims' rights, and in the Code of Criminal Procedure a separate section has been devoted to the victim. The current study specifically addresses one of the victims' rights, that is, the right to be legally represented. The Dutch government has financially invested in access to and specialization of victim lawyers in order to promote the realization of victims' rights, specifically for victims of serious crimes and sex offences. The goal of the current study was to investigate the added value of victim lawyers and the extent to which they contribute to the fulfilment of victims' rights in the criminal law process. A literature study was conducted to examine legislation pertaining to victims' rights; a questionnaire study was conducted to investigate the perspective of victim lawyers ( n = 148); and interviews were conducted to examine the perspective of the police, Victim Support Netherlands, Public Prosecuting Service, and criminal courts ( n = 17). The results show that victim lawyers were important to the realization of victims' rights. They were considered most necessary with respect to the right to claim compensation and with respect to the right to gain access to the case file. They were also required because victims' rights have not yet been smoothly incorporated into legal practice. In addition, victim lawyers' presence in the courtroom was considered important because it contributes to victims experiencing that they are taken seriously. It has been concluded that the support of victim lawyers is an important contribution to victim participation in criminal proceedings.
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