Suspects' privilege against self-incrimination not violated when made to unlock smartphone with fingerprint, Dutch Supreme Court rules

11 March 2021

On the 9th of February, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that forcing suspects to provide access to their smartphone with a fingerprint is not a breach of the privilege against self-incrimination. The case originated from an ex officio appeal ‘in the interest of the law’ in a case of the Court of North Holland. Appeals ‘in the interest of the law’ are introduced by the Prosecutor-General to encourage the Supreme Court to provide clarification of important legal principles.

Anna Pivaty

Dr Anna Pivaty (1982) is postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology of the Faculty of Law. She is the author of 'Criminal Defence at Police Stations' (Routledge, forthcoming early 2020). Anna's interest lies in the area of socio-legal research on criminal justice, particularly criminal defence professionals, policing and police custody (and more recently, multi-culturalism in the criminal justice process).

Currently Anna works on the project EmpRiSe: 'Right to Silence and Related Rights in Pre-Trial Suspects Interrogations in the EU: Legal and Empirical Study and Promoting Best Practice' (April 2018-April 2020) in cooperation with Antwerp University, Leuven University and Dublin City University funded by DG Justice, European Commission. Anna is also involved in the EU-funded project NETPRALAT, which promotes cross-border training, cooperation and exchange among EU criminal defence lawyers in assisting suspects in pre-trial detention. Lawyers from Estonia, France, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Spain were trained to deliver the NETPRALAT training to their peers. Additionally, a European network of criminal defence lawyers was launched to improve the quality of legal assistance at the pre-trial detention stage.

Previously Anna initiated and led EU-funded project SUPRALAT, which developed an innovative, practice-oriented and interdisciplinary training program for criminal defence lawyers enabling them to defend effectively clients' rights at police stations (with Dr. Miet Vanderhallen, Dr. Robert Horselenberg, Mr. Rebecca Heemskerk and Dr. Danielle Verstegen (FHML)), Antwerp University, Dublin City University and Hungarian Helsinki Committee). The project was partly derived from Anna's PhD research 'Criminal Defence at Police Stations: a Comparative and Empirical Study'. The training program was successfully implemented in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Hungary (and subsequently, Scotland). In Belgium, Ireland and Scotland, SUPRALAT training has developed into standard professional training for criminal defence lawyers assisting suspects at police stations. 

Anna is (co-)author of 'Inside Police Custody: An Empirical Account of Suspects Rights in Four Jurisdictions' and several peer reviewed articles on criminal procedure, suspects' rights and international and European criminal law. Anna regularly contributes to national and European events and other fora for practitioners, government officials and policy-makers. She is member of the Legal Experts Advisory Panel  of Fair Trials International.

At the Law Faculty, Anna was involved in teaching courses on criminal procedure, criminal law and legal skills.