More reports of threats against politicians, especially Geert Wilders: Prosecutor
The police received a record number of reports from politicians being threatened in 2022. The Team Threatened Politicians (TBP) of the police in The Hauge received 1,125 reports of threats and incitement addressed to parliamentarians and government officials, almost two times as many as the year before. Then there were 588 reports.
The increase is mainly due to more threats against one parliamentarian - Geert Wilders. At least half of the 1,125 reports came from the PVV leader. He received many threats from outside the European Union. The total number of threatened politicians was comparable to previous years. For privacy reasons, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) does not make statements about individual politicians.
The OM investigates reported threats. In 2022, the OM concluded in 889 cases that the report concerned a punishable threat. The year before, that number was quite a bit lower at 373. According to the OM, threats against politicians “remain a persistent problem,” and social unrest is one of the leading causes of the increase.
Most threats are made via social media. In such a case, finding out who is behind the account is often complicated. Also, many punishable threats last year were made from countries outside the EU. Almost 600 of the 889 threats came from countries like Pakistan, with which the Netherlands does not have a legal assistance treaty. “Without a legal aid treaty, there is very little chance that the local authorities will cooperate within an acceptable period,” according to the OM. If it is impossible to get legal aid in identifying and questioning the suspect, the authorities drop the investigation. In 712 cases, the investigation did not yield a suspect who could be arrested.
Last year, 376 suspects were brought before the criminal court. The court imposed sentences of up to five months and community service of up to 120 hours. Seven cases were handled in OM sessions, and four were transferred to countries with which the Netherlands has a legal aid treaty. Bureau Halt dealt with a threat made by a minor, and one case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. The investigation is still ongoing in 127 cases.
The TBP of the police focuses on punishable threats against national politicians, like Ministers, parliamentarians, Senators, and State Secretaries.
Reporting by ANP