Parliament supports harsher punishments for manslaughter

Gavel with lady justice in the background
Gavel with lady justice in the backgroundPhoto: SergPoznanskiy/DepositPhotos

A majority in the lower house of Dutch parliament is in favor of increasing the maximum penalty for manslaughter, as the chief executive at the Public Prosecution Service called for earlier this month. The parliamentarians agree that the gap between the 30 years maximum prison sentence for murder and the current 15 years for manslaughter must be decreased, RTL Nieuws reports.

PvdA parliamentarian Attje Kuiken believes the case around 16-year-old Humeyra being shot dead at her school shows that manslaughter needs harsher punishments. "She was stalked and threatened; her murderer was waiting for her with a loaded gun. Yet murder could not be proven," she said, calling it unacceptable. "Humeyra's murderer came away with 14 years. That is indigestible for the family. And that is why we want to narrow the gap between manslaughter and murder. A verdict must be just."

For someone to be convicted of murder, the Public Prosecutor must be able to prove that they worked on a premeditated plan - that they went out with the intention to kill someone. If premeditation cannot be proven, the perpetrator is usually convicted for manslaughter. Earlier this month, OM director Gerrit van der Burg called for manslaughter to have harsher punishments because, "impulse acts can also be the final piece of a bad pattern."

Kuiken agrees. "Sometimes premeditation is difficult to prove, while everything feels that there was indeed preparation. In that case, manslaughter is simply not enough as a punishment," she said, according to the broadcaster.

The parliamentarians cannot yet agree on what the maximum punishment for manslaughter must be, but they want Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security to submit a proposal in the short term. "We want Minister Grapperahus to send a legislative amendment to the lower house by May this year in which the maximum penalty for manslaughter must be raised," VVD parliamentarian Jeroen van Wijgaarden said to RTL.