Automatic prison term for rape: minister

Convicted rapists and other serious sex offenders should always be given prison terms, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told judges on Tuesday.

The minister’s statement cooincides with the case of an ex-policeman who was given 200 hours community service for abusing a 14-year-old girl last week.
Judges did not jail him, arguing he had lost his job and because police officers have a hard time in prison. The sentence, which was in line with the public prosecution department demand, created an outcry.
Hirsch Ballin told MPs on Tuesday that he will make it clear to prosecutors that community service is not appropriate for sex crimes. Other serious crimes, such as attempted murder, will also fall under the new guidelines.
Currently, community service is only supposed to be applied in exceptional circumstances, but research shows this is not the case, Hirsch Ballin said.
In 2006, community service was handed out to 54 people convicted of rape and to 225 people convicted of sexual assault, tv programme Zembla reported last year. In total, 883 people convicted of a sex crime were given community service. The Zembla investigation led MPs to demand Hirsch Ballin bring in tougher sentencing.
The minister said in his letter to MPs that the new rules would also apply to the sexual abuse of children on the internet.

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