Grapperhaus: Several offences to receive higher maximum sentence

A legislative proposal submitted by Minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus to increase the effectiveness of fighting high-volume crime was passed on the nod by the Dutch Senate today. Not only is the Minister raising the maximum sentence for a number of offences, he will also step up the approach to revenge porn.

The new law is expected to come into effect on 1 January 2020.


‘It needs to be clear what behaviour is accepted in the Netherlands and what is not. As crime impairs the rule of law and causes feelings of insecurity, the government should be able to issue an effective response.’

Membership of a criminal organisation

There will be a higher maximum sentence for membership of a criminal organisation. If the organisation engages in very serious crime, including murder, abduction or hard drug trafficking, the maximum sentence will increase from six to ten years in prison. Higher sentences will also be handed out for the trade in and possession of automatic firearms and heavy explosives such as hand grenades. The maximum prison sentence will increase to eight years. These changes are relevant to combating subversion.

Abuse of sexual visual material

The Minister is establishing the abuse of sexual visual material as a separate crime. Offenders could face a prison sentence of up to 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, while being aware that such disclosure may negatively affect this individual. In addition, the creation of sexual visual material without the subject's permission – such as making up-skirt photos or videos in public places – will become a punishable offence. The possession or dissemination of such material will also be an offence.

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 years. This way, the Minister wishes to draw a clear line to condemn such statements, which not only cause feelings of insecurity among victims but may also create discord within society.

Child abuse

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 change will prevent the period of limitation from already having expired by the time that the victim makes the abuse public and intends to report the crime. In addition, the maximum sentence will be increased by one third in cases involving systematic abuse. Abuse by employees of care and healthcare institutions, boarding schools, regular schools and childcare facilities will also be liable to this increased sentence. 

Obstructing emergency services

Finally, the maximum sentence for obstructing emergency services will be increased from one month to three months. Police officers, ambulance staff and firefighters frequently face citizens behaving in an aggressive manner. Another change is that location will cease to affect criminal liability when obstructing emergency services. Punishability is currently limited to public roads.

The Minister's legislative proposal implements the Coalition Agreement and commitments to the Dutch House of Representatives.