Sunday 15 September 2019

Life in a Dutch jail may no longer mean life

A prison corridor


Criminals serving life sentences in the Netherlands may come up for release after 25 years if new proposals being drawn up by junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff become law, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

Currently in the Netherlands, life sentences mean just that, with no prospect of early release. There are currently around 30 prisoners serving life sentences in Dutch prisons, including several gangland murderers and Mohammed Bouyeri, who murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

The minister’s plan would mean criminals serving life sentences would have their detention assessed after 25 years. The opinions of prosecutors and judges would be taken into account, as would the prisoner’s mental health and the interests of victims and survivors.

The Dutch government has come under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in 2013 that it is inhumane to detain someone for life with no prospect of release. Currently, prisoners serving life sentences can only be pardoned by royal decree.

Both parties in the coalition government agree with reforming life sentences. Previously the VVD had stuck to a policy of ‘life is life’, but in practice judges had largely avoided imposing life sentences, opting for the maximum temporary sentence of 30 years instead.

‘There is currently no definitive proposal,’ a spokesman for Dijkhoff told broadcaster Nos. ‘The minister will inform parliament in the coming months.’ has been free for 12 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
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