Government to relax rules for withdrawing passports to prevent convicted criminals from fleeing the country

The Public Prosecution Service will soon be able to apply for the withdrawal of passports of criminals sentenced to at least four months in prison. Under current legislation, a sentence of at least six months must have been imposed. Withdrawing criminals’ passports prevents them from escaping punishment by fleeing abroad.

The Council of Ministers for the Kingdom took this decision following a proposal from Ronald Plasterk, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, and Fred Teeven, Minister for Immigration. The proposal is in line with the four-month rule for issuing a European arrest warrant for sentenced fugitives.

It is already possible to withdraw a passport if the court imposes fines of at least €3,900 on the holder. Under the new plans, this will be broadened to include deprivation orders (under legislation designed to deprive people of the proceeds of crime) and orders to pay damages of €3,900 or more.

The proposal will be submitted to the House of Representatives in the form of a memorandum of amendment to the Passport Act Bill, which the House is currently considering. The Bill concerns removing fingerprints from Dutch identity cards and extending the validity of Dutch passports and identify cards from five to ten years.

The Council of Ministers for the Kingdom has agreed to send the memorandum of amendment to the Council of State. The text of the memorandum and of the Council of State’s advisory opinion will be published following submission to the House of Representatives.