Netherlands moves closer to banning denial of Holocaust, genocide and war crimes
The caretaker Cabinet has moved forward with their plan to amend the Dutch Criminal Code in a way that would make it a criminal offense to "publicly condone, deny or downplay the horrors of the Holocaust," the Ministry of Justice and Security announced on Friday. The bill put forward by the Cabinet would adjust the section of the law that makes it punishable to publicly denounce groups of people based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
This would be amended to include protecting the victims of all acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes from "particularly hurtful statements that deny and trivialize these types of international crimes," the ministry said.
"Unfortunately, denial of this kind of heinous crimes against humanity is the order of the day. For example, we regularly see that the monster of anti-Semitism rears its head again," said caretaker Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius. "This worries me immensely and we should not leave it unanswered, because the lesson of the Holocaust is not a history lesson. This is also about the here and now. It is about discrimination, exclusion and ultimately: destruction."
A draft version of the bill was first released in October as the Cabinet's response to European demands to tighten up aspects of the criminal code to better enforce provisions of European law. Specifically, European Union Member States were required to adjust criminal law to conform to the 2008 European Council Framework regarding expressions of racism and xenophobia. In the Netherlands, this requires adjusting Article 137c of the Dutch Criminal Code, which already includes the prohibition on racism and certain other forms of discrimination.
Those who violate the current terms of the law can face a maximum sentence of one year in prison. The maximum term will remain unchanged should the outgoing Cabinet's bill be approved, the ministry said.
Additionally, the current law also allows for the sentence to be increased to a maximum of two years if the person convicted makes violation of the law "a profession or habit," or if they participated in the hate crime as part of a group of two or more people. They can also be subjected to a maximum fine of 22,500 euros, according to current penalty standards in the Netherlands.