Justice Minister wants harsher punishments for threatening mayors

Ferdinand Grapperhaus
Ferdinand Grapperhaus (front, left) at the International Missions Remembrance Medal during the World Forum in The Hague. Nov. 1, 2018 Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security wants stricter legislation to prevent mayors from being threatened. The maximum prison sentence for threatening a public official must be increased from two to four years, and the Minister is also looking into how the government can confiscate more money and possessions from serious criminals, he said in an interview with the Telegraaf.

The Minister responded to threats made against a number of mayors in the Netherlands. Mayor Jos Wienen of Haarlem had to go into hiding last year due to death threats. His colleagues from Helmond, Emmen and Kerkrade also had to spend some time away from their homes for the same reason, according to NOS. Last month it was revealed that mayor Annemiek Jetten of Vlaardingen received multiple threats, including death threats. A year ago mayor Wil Houben of Voerendaal was threatened with a firearm. 

"In the past someone shouted: I know where to find you", Grapperhaus said to the newspaper. "Now the threats are more intense and are more intrusive on someone's life." He will work with the Public Prosecutor to see whether prison sentences can be increased for people who threaten mayors and other public officials. 

A survey conducted last year showed that nearly a third of mayors and other officials face threats, compared to about a quarter in 2017. The Minister hopes to decrease this to at most 10 percent within five years. "I don't have the pretension to claim that a completely crime-free society will arise", he said to the newspaper. 

Grapperhaus also said that State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance is looking into whether the Tax Authority can get a better grip on criminal money. "You have to take away their assets and belongings, destroy their criminal organizations with a legal bulldozer", the Justice Minister said.