Toespraak door minister Grapperhaus bij de onderteking van verdragen met de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten (English only)

Speech by Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus at the signing of an extradition treaty and a legal assistance treaty with the UAE, 27 August 2021.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to express my thanks for the warm welcome we have received here in the United Arab Emirates. It has confirmed once again the strong relations between our two countries.

Our countries have a surprising amount in common: both are relatively flat, relatively small and surrounded by water and larger neighbours. And we have turned those circumstances to our advantage. Our neighbours form an economic hinterland for which we each play a key role as a trade hub. What’s more, we are both global frontrunners when it comes to water management. What has been achieved here in the UAE over the past few decades has amazed even the Dutch.

The port of Jebel Ali plays a major role in international trade, much like the port of Rotterdam. The airports of Dubai and Amsterdam are vital links in international tourist travel. And both Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam are global financial centres. In short, both the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands are strong, internationally oriented trade economies.

However, excellent infrastructure doesn’t just attract legitimate business owners and investors. You and we, both, have also experienced the downside: our countries have attracted people and organisations seeking to abuse the facilities we offer for criminal gain.

We, like you, do not want to be a logistical hub for the drug trade and other undesirable activities. And we certainly do not want the excessive violence that is part and parcel of the drug trade – with targeted killings and scores being settled on our streets.

At national and European level we have, for several years now, been taking a much more targeted approach to curbing drug-related crime. But criminals don’t let borders hinder their operations: whether they are moving drugs or their criminal proceeds. That is why it is necessary to join forces to an even greater extent at international level.

I therefore regard it as an honour, a privilege and an exceptional opportunity to be here today, together with senior representatives of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the police: Gerrit van der Burg and Hanneke Ekelmans.

Over the past few years, cooperation between the Netherlands and the UAE on combating international crime has been stepped up considerably. The UAE often takes the lead in this area and seeks to align itself with other countries’ efforts. By working together, we can not only combat organised crime and all its socially undermining and disruptive effects, but also prevent further disruption to society in the future.

Thanks to these joint efforts, people are now on trial in the Netherlands on suspicion of involvement in some of the most serious crimes committed in recent Dutch history. And only last week your efforts resulted in the arrest of a notorious Italian mafia boss who also had many links with the Netherlands. I want to convey to you, the UAE authorities, my great thanks and respect for all you have done.

You are an extremely important partner to us. And that is why it gives me great pleasure that, as part of our partnership, we are signing two treaties today. One treaty on the extradition of suspects and convicted persons. And a second on international legal assistance.

These two treaties cement our successful cooperation so far. They also represent a crucial step towards further intensifying our fight against the international drug trade and organised crime. Together, we are showing the underworld that we are joining forces. This will broaden our partnership, simplify the legal aspects and – as a result – make our joint efforts more practical and effective. I hope that the central authorities in both our countries will soon be able to hold operational consultations with the Public Prosecution Service and the police to discuss specific cases.

Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to judge Al Baloushi for his work in the areas of legal assistance and extradition. His role cannot be overestimated. It is thanks, in part, to his tireless efforts that we are here today and that several notorious criminals, who long thought themselves untouchable, are safely behind bars.

Your Excellencies, judge Al Baloushi, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you.