Legislative proposal fortifies approach to crime
A legislative proposal from Minister Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) aimed at more effectively combating criminality was submitted to the House of Representatives today. To this end, the Minister will increase the maximum sentence for a number of offences; he will also introduce harsher punishments for revenge porn. These measures serve to reinforce the criminal-law strategy for prevalent crime and enable heavier sentences for offenders. Through this proposal, the Minister is implementing the coalition agreement and making commitments to the House.
These measures were prompted in part by recent developments in the nature and severity of organised crime, which threaten to undermine the fabric of society further. The disapproval and unrest caused by certain new and existing behaviours play an important role here as well. Individuals are increasingly committing online acts that seriously violate the privacy of others, for instance. Greater attention must also be devoted to tackling discrimination and hate.
'The boundaries between what is and is not acceptable behaviour in the Netherlands must be crystal clear. Criminality is detrimental to the rule of law and leads to feelings of insecurity. As a result, it is crucial that the government can take effective action.'
Participation in a criminal organisation
The maximum sentence for participation in a criminal organisation will increase from six to ten years in prison if the organisation commits very serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping and trafficking in hard drugs. Targeted shootings using heavy firearms demonstrate the serious nature of the escalation in violence among criminals. For that reason, the trade in and possession of these firearms will earn tougher punishments as well. The maximum prison sentence will increase to eight years. These measures are vital to combating subversive crime.
Abuse of sexual visual material
The Minister is establishing the abuse of sexual visual material as a separate crime. Offenders will soon face maximum prison sentences of two years. This measure is intended as a tough approach to revenge porn and similar offences. ‘Revenge porn’ involves the public disclosure of sexual visual material featuring a person, with the intent to embarrass or harm that individual. In addition, the creation of sexual visual material without the subject's permission – such as making up-skirt photos or videos in public – is a punishable offence. The same also applies to the possession and dissemination of such images.
Inciting violence, hatred and discrimination
The maximum sentence for inciting hatred, discrimination or violence based on discriminatory grounds will also be increased from one year to two. The Minister wishes to draw a firm line discouraging this type of expression, which may not only lead to feelings of insecurity among victims but can also create division within society as well. Furthermore, the number of such incidents is on the rise and the gravity of inciting hatred is escalating.
Victims of child abuse are often in a vulnerable position, as it is very difficult for them to escape the abuse. The statute of limitations is therefore being extended. Currently, the statutory period begins on the day after the abuse has occurred; soon, however, it will begin the day after the victim's eighteenth birthday. This procedure will prevent situations in which the statutory time period for the crime has already expired by the time that the victim reveals the abuse and is willing to file charges. In addition, the maximum sentence will be increased by one-third in cases involving systematic abuse. The same will also apply to abuse committed by those who work in a care institution, custodial home, school, before- or after-school care centre.
Hindering emergency services
Finally, the maximum sentence for hindering emergency services will increase from one month to three. Police officers, ambulance staff and fire services are facing aggressive behaviour from citizens on a regular basis. Another change involves the punishability of such acts, for which it will soon cease to matter where the person has hindered emergency workers. Punishability is currently limited to public roads.