Judges hit back at ‘too soft’ claims

The council for the judiciary has denied accusations that judges in the Netherlands are too lenient.

‘We take exception to the image of being unworldly, soft-option judges,’ said a spokesman on Friday. ‘There is no question of judges being out of touch with society.’
The response follows calls for tougher sentencing from Amsterdam police chief Hans Schönfeld following the disturbances in the suburb of Slotervaart. ‘If we arrest youths and they are back on the street again in a couple of days, it makes it very hard to deal with them,’ Schönfeld told the AD on Friday.
The commissioner also wants judges to take suspicious behaviour more into account when assessing penalties.
‘It’s his right to say that,’ said the council spokesman. ‘But judges cannot discuss the size of the penalty. The law says you cannot be punished for matters which cannot be proved.’
International research shows the Dutch penal system is among the most lenient in Europe. Earlier this week judges were also under fire for giving community service to serious offenders rather than prison terms.

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