Stichting Landelijk Advocaten Netwerk Gewelds- en Zeden Slachtoffers (LANGZS) is a foundation that focuses on offering legal assistance to the victims of serious violent and sex crimes. It was set up on that basis by a number of lawyers in December 2007. The foundation’s object is to reinforce the (legal) position of victims of serious violent and sex crimes and to look after the interest of the lawyers of these victims. LANGZS also supports the next of kin of victims of violent crime.
The foundation refers victims of serious violent and sex crimes to LANGZS-affiliated lawyers. These lawyers specialise in supporting victims of serious violent and sex crimes. All lawyers have specific knowledge and experience in this legal field, as well as an affinity with the victims. The LANGZS foundation is of the opinion that it is in the interest of victims of violent and sex crimes for a specialist lawyer with knowledge, expertise and affinity with this specific target groups to take control from the start of criminal proceedings. Not only to support the person who is the victim of the crime but also within the framework of support throughout the legal process, from the moment the victim reports the crime until judgment is passed. From April 2006, legal assistance from a lawyer in violence and sex crime cases can be offered free of charge when certain conditions are met. The victim’s income position is irrelevant in such cases.
LANGZS tries to increase the expertise of the victim lawyers by organising peer review meetings, among other things. LANGZS’ peer review meetings unite victim lawyers who have shared interests and corresponding work experience. Under the guidance of a non-lawyer, victim lawyers discuss problems they come across on the shop floor and they try to find solutions for them. LANGZS also organises an annual conference. Subjects of previous conferences included the EU directive on minimum standards for victims and sexual violence: from hands-on to hands-off. LANGZS is also involved in setting up various study programmes for victim advocacy and it prepares the relevant curriculum.
Increasing the expertise of victim lawyers indirectly improves the victims’ position. LANGZS also believes that it is vital to continuously consult various parties in order to improve the victim’s position in the criminal process. By compiling a Black Paper, LANGZS tries to exert influence on politicians. For this Black Paper, LANGZS collects errors made by, for instance, the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Legal Aid Board, the Public Prosecution Service and Victim Support Netherlands, after which it publicly presents them to the organisations in question.
The LANGZS foundation also provides information about victim advocacy to anyone who is interested. Our website includes various articles about the criminal process, as well as detailed information about, for instance, compensation and the right to be heard.
For more information about victim advocacy and/or the activities of the LANGZS foundation, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.