Republicans lose lawsuit against king’s involvement in the legal system

King Willem-Alexander wearing the ermine robe, April 2013. Photo: Koos Breukel / RVD
The king’s official portrait in a Rotterdam courtroom. Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen ANP

King Willem-Alexander’s role in the Dutch legal system doesn’t violate the right to a fair trial, judges in The Hague have ruled.

Republican movement Republiek brought a lawsuit last year against both the king and the Dutch government, alleging the monarch’s role is at odds with the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees Europeans a free and fair trial.

The group pointed to 18 ways the king participates in the Dutch judiciary, including swearing in judges and signing all laws passed in the country. The December hearing took place underneath the official portrait of King Willem-Alexander, as all courtrooms in the country display his photo.

The court dismissed the case, calling the allegations ‘short sighted’ and concluding the king’s involvement was merely symbolic.

‘The fact that the king as head of state has certain powers, that special procedures apply and that there are traditions surrounding the King (such as the portrait of the King in courtrooms) does not mean that the right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial court is violated,’ the court said in a statement.

Republiek has not said whether they will appeal against the ruling. The group is planning a protest on King’s Day in Rotterdam where they will hold up anti-monarchy signs along the king’s route through the city.

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