In September 2009, the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament (Tweede Kamer; the “Second Chamber”) referred questions to the Dutch Minister of Justice (the “Minister”) regarding the information he provided on wiretapping statistics for the second half of 2007. The questions inter alia concerned the costs, the necessity and benefits, the number and the effectiveness of wiretaps, as well as the use of wiretaps in the Netherlands compared to the use of wiretaps in other countries. In addition, the Second Chamber asked the Minister whether wiretapped conversations between suspects and their lawyers are treated confidentially and thus are not used in criminal investigations.
In his answers, the Minister indicated, amongst other things, the following:
- In order to clarify the necessity and benefits of the use of wiretaps, all wiretaps should be examined afterwards. The Minister finds that this is unnecessary as it is clear from the findings of several different researchers that wiretapping is an effective means of investigation. Research shows that wiretaps play a very important role in criminal investigations.
- The Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure includes sufficient safeguards to prevent the unnecessary use of wiretaps. The Minister further elaborated on the procedure in the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure.
- In spite of the fact that it is difficult to identify the effectiveness of wiretaps, as the results always depend on a combination of different investigative activities, research shows according to the Minister that wiretaps are effective. Wiretaps are especially effective in determining the course of investigations.
- Comparing the use of wiretaps in the Netherlands to the use of wiretaps in other countries is not possible according to the Minister because of the different legal systems in these countries.
- Client-attorney privilege plays a very important role in the investigations. The Minister referred in this respect to the recent advice of a committee regarding privileged information. According to the committee the solution for the problems that exist regarding the manual recognition and destruction of taped privileged discussions can be solved by a computerised system that recognises and destroys privileged information.