Courts should take charge in commuting life sentences, not Cabinet ministers: Council
The Council for Criminal Justice and Youth Protection (RSJ) wants judges to take the lead in re-evaluating the release of prisoners who were sentenced to life behind bars. The Minister of Legal Protection currently has a major role in the decision as to whether someone will be paroled. "This procedure is sensitive to political influences," the RSJ said in an advisory statement issued Monday.
The sentences of people who were sentenced to life behind bars can be re-evaluated after 25 years. This was put in place in the Netherlands after pressure from the European Court of Human Rights. During the parole procedure, advice is first issued by an advisory body which refuses the cases of people incarcerated for life. Following that, the minister considers the matter.
The RSJ now wants this procedure to be replaced by a judicial test. "An assessment by the court offers better guarantees for an impartial and independent judgment than a pardon procedure," said Franc Weerwind, the minister of legal protection.
Last year, the former minister of legal protection announced that he would reconsider the procedure after criticism increased. According to the RSJ, its current advice is in line with this reconsideration.
Reporting by ANP