Chamber agrees to increase maximum manslaughter sentence (to 25 years), lawyers divided

The House of Representatives wants to increase the maximum penalty for manslaughter to 25 years. As expected, a parliamentary majority has agreed to a proposal from the cabinet to arrange this. Now the maximum penalty is still 15 years. The Senate still has to agree to it. The vote on that is probably before the end of this year.

Within the coalition, the vote has been divided. VVD and CDA voted in favour, but D66 voted against. The ChristenUnie had doubts, but ultimately also voted in favour of the proposal. Member of Parliament Bikker said, partly on behalf of the SP, that the gap between the penalty limits for murder and manslaughter is too large. But it considers 20 years more obvious than 25, with an amendment tabled by GroenLinks, D66, ChristenUnie and Volt for its reduction. Before that, no parliamentary majority appeared.

According to Bikker, the penalty maximum of 25 years should have been better substantiated, but she now also thinks the gap is too big. โ€œBecause ultimately the judge determines the sentence, and will continue to reflect the difference between murder and manslaughter, both groups will vote in favour of the bill with said inconvenience.โ€

In the Chamber, VVD, CDA, ChristenUnie, PVV, SP, JA21, Denk, FvD, SGP, Omtzigt, BBB, the Group-Van Haga and the group Den Haan voted for the proposal.

Politics have long believed that the penalties for these serious crimes should be more balanced. For murder, temporary imprisonment can be imposed for up to 30 years, or life in prison. One of the reasons to increase the maximum sentence for manslaughter was the case against Bekir E. He shot and killed his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend Hรผmeyra after stalking her for a long time.

Initially, he received 14 years in prison and tbs for manslaughter. Judges then said that politics should take a look at the legislation. E. was later convicted of murder.

โ€œIn case of manslaughter, a much higher penalty is often possible,โ€ says Jeroen Soeteman of the Netherlands Bar Association in the CCEIT Radio 1 Journal. He does not need to increase the maximum penalty. โ€œFor example, if it is committed in the event of a burglary, and you are caught. Or in a sexual offence. This is called qualified manslaughter and it can be imposed for 30 years, or for life. The same applies if a weapon has been used.โ€

Chief Executive Gerrit van der Burg of the Public Prosecution, on the contrary, believes that judges and the prosecution should be given more room to punish more severely. โ€œImpulse acts can also be the culmination of a bad violent pattern,โ€ he says in the NPO Radio 1 program Speechmakers. โ€œWhich makes you look at the setup in a different way than you do in other things.โ€

According to Van der Burg, it is precisely necessary to have more room for manoeuvre in terms of penalties, both for the public prosecutor and for the case law. โ€œThere must be room for an appropriate punishment. When it comes to serious crimes, the principle of retaliation is also very important.โ€

Many penalties are not given on the basis of the maximum penalty size. In this case, too, penalties will often be lower than what a judge may give maximum. However, Jack Keijzer of the Federation of Survivors of Violence Victims of Violence considers it very important that the judge can impose a higher sentence. โ€œThere are manslaughters that are so gruesome that a very high punishment is appropriate and commanded.โ€

He thinks the difference between murder and manslaughter is huge now. โ€œIt‘s sometimes a very scary dividing line that can’t be understood by the next of kin,โ€ he says. โ€œIf a victim is killed with fifty stabbing, but murder cannot be proven, then a sentence of 15 years is actually unacceptable.โ€

Understandable emotion

Soeteman, according to his own words, understands very well that relatives want people to be locked up for a long time. โ€œBut I don‘t think the cabinet should respond from that understandable emotion, but should look wider. If we see it in other penalties and the ratio, we find that 15 years will suffice.โ€ He points out that the penalty rate has also been significantly increased earlier. In the past, after serving two-thirds of the sentence, a convict came at large. But now you get free up to two years earlier.

Judge Willem Korthals Altes, who, as a judge, has no opinion about increasing the maximum penalty, points out to Speekmakers that the judge can have more room for determining a sentence. โ€œIt is not so easy to impose the maximum penalty, because that means: it can’t be worse. But as a judge, you do have the room to impose a higher penalty because it is a very bad act.โ€ Incidentally, he does not expect that the maximum penalty will be imposed frequently. โ€œIt will happen once.โ€