Rape suspects rarely prosecuted; no maximum sentences in 3 years: report

Scales of justice and gavel on law book
Scales of justice and gavel on law bookPhoto: tomloel/DepositPhotos

Suspects of rape are rarely prosecuted in the Netherlands, and those who are often get away with a low sentence. Over the past three years, the courts in the Netherlands never imposed the maximum sentence for rape - 12 years in prison, AD reports based on figures requested from the police, the judiciary and the court about sexual offenses in the past three years. 

Last year, up until October, only 37 percent of the rape reports the police investigated also led to charges being press, slightly less than in previous years, according to the newspaper. This may be because a story did not check out, no criminal offense was identified, the criminal offense was difficult to prove, or the victim decided not to proceed, the police said to AD.

Of the declarations that eventually ended up with the Public Prosecution Service (OM) in the same period last year, 58 percent were dismissed. "In sex offenses, evidence is often difficult," an OM spokesperson said to the newspaper.

Up until October, the Dutch courts handled 172 cases of rape in 2019. A suspect was convicted of rape in 102 cases. Since 2017, the courts in the Netherlands have not once imposed the maximum prison sentence of 12 years for rape. The highest sentence imposed was 6 years, the lowest 21 days. On average, a convicted rapist in the Netherlands spends 1 year and 5 months in prison, according to AD.

Judges have to weigh all circumstances when imposing a sentence, a spokesperson for the Council for the Judiciary said to AD. "Particular attention is paid to the seriousness of the rape and the consequences for the victim," the spokesperson said. "To what extent was violence used or was it forced in another way?"