Claims-making in court cases on children: Religion, ethnicity, and culture in cases of Dutch minority families against the state

Authors

  • Iris Sportel Institute for Sociology of Law/Centre for Migration Law of Radboud University Nijmegen

Keywords:

Claims-making in court, cultural defense, reclamaciones ante los tribunales, defensa cultural

Abstract

This paper focuses on cultural, religious, or ethnic claims made by family members in court cases against state institutions in the Netherlands. Based on an analysis of court judgements, I explore claims-making in cases regarding children from minority families in various fields of law. In the literature, such claims are often discussed in the context of the so-called cultural defence, where perpetrators of crimes make cultural claims to avoid or lessen punishment. However, family members may also make claims for exceptions of state policies, demand accommodation of particular practices, or to challenge discrimination by state institutions. The paper shows how Dutch courts are reluctant to engage with such claims, and often leave them out of court judgements entirely. I argue that this lack of engagement with cultural, religious, or ethnic claims should be understood in the context of general Dutch discourses of colour-blindness and assimilation of migrant minorities.

Este artículo se centra en los argumentos culturales, religiosos o étnicos presentados por miembros de familias en casos judiciales contra instituciones del Estado, en Holanda. Basándome en un análisis de las sentencias judiciales, estudio la presentación de argumentos en casos relacionados con niños de familias de minorías en varios campos jurídicos. En la literatura, dichos argumentos suelen comentarse en el contexto de la así denominada defensa cultural, donde los autores de delitos presentan argumentos culturales para eludir o disminuir el castigo. Sin embargo, también los miembros de familias pueden presentar argumentos para excepciones de políticas estatales, para solicitar la aceptación de determinadas prácticas, o para aducir discriminación por parte de instituciones del Estado. El artículo muestra cómo los tribunales holandeses son reacios a aceptar esos argumentos, y a menudo los excluyen totalmente de las sentencias. Aduzco que esta falta de implicación con argumentaciones culturales, religiosas o étnicas debería entenderse en el contexto de los discursos generales de Holanda sobre la asimilación de minorías migrantes.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1209

Author Biography

Iris Sportel, Institute for Sociology of Law/Centre for Migration Law of Radboud University Nijmegen

Iris Sportel is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Sociology of Law and the Centre for Migration Law of Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She holds a PhD (2014) in sociology of law and gender studies from Radboud University. As a legal anthropologist, her research focusses on how individual actors -- ordinary people, legal professionals, and parties in court procedures -- deal with and experience law and legal institutions, especially in contexts of migration and transnationalism. She wrote Transnational Families and Divorce, Marriage, Migration, and Family Law (Palgrave McMillan, 2016). Currently, she is working on a research project on Religion, culture, and ethnicity in court procedures on children from minority families, financed by a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

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Published

01-08-2021

How to Cite

Sportel, I. (2021) “Claims-making in court cases on children: Religion, ethnicity, and culture in cases of Dutch minority families against the state”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 11(4), pp. 1066–1087. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1202 (Accessed: 28 September 2021).