Senate agrees to increase maximum sentence for manslaughter to 25 years
The maximum sentence for manslaughter will be increased from 15 years to 25 years. The Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, voted in favor of the bill. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of parliament, already agreed to this.
The tougher sentence is meant to reduce the difference between the sentences for manslaughter and murder. Murder carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, with some circumstances permitting the court to impose a life sentence. That so-called 'penalty gap' was smaller when the maximum sentence for murder was still 20 years behind bars.
The sentence increase is an initiative from Minister of Justice Dilan Yesilgöz. However, the Dutch Bar Association said the reason for the more severe maximum sentence has not been made sufficiently clear, just that the Public Prosecution Service considers it useful that the gap is reduced.
The Tweede Kamer voted in favor of the bill last May, although coalition party D66 voted against it.
D66 senator Boris Dittrich also expressed his doubts in the Senate. He wondered whether a higher maximum sentence for manslaughter would really add anything. "Manslaughter is an impulsive crime. It does not seem plausible to me that there is general deterrence here," he said. For that reason, his party eventually also voted against the bill in the Senate. He is not convinced that raising the maximum sentence will make society safer.
The difference between murder and manslaughter is whether someone took steps to plan to kill another. Manslaughter is impulsive, whereas murder is more of a premeditated crime. In both cases, someone is killed intentionally. When a victim dies in a situation that was not necessarily the intention, it may be a case of either wrongful death or assault resulting in death.
Reporting by ANP