A farmers protest outside the boundaries of the law: what are the consequences?

As a protest action against the nitrogen policy, farmers blocked several Dutch motorways on 27 July. On the A1, A2, A28 and A32, among others, traffic was held up by manure, hay bales, car tyres and even asbestos, which was dumped on the motorways. The protest action of the farmers caused a lot of inconvenience and even an accident. Several laws were broken during this protest, which gives the police the opportunity to intervene. Joost Nan, Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at Erasmus School of Law, mentions some of the laws that were broken in an interview with RTL Nieuws.

Nan starts with the Road Traffic Act. It follows from Article 5 of the Road Traffic Act alone that you may not endanger others or (possibly) obstruct traffic with your behaviour.

Besides the Road Traffic Act, the farmers have also broken various environmental laws. Nan states that it is forbidden to simply put substances on or into the ground. The same applies to setting fire to these substances. Nan continues: "And if the highway is broken because of the dumping of the waste, or because the farmers set fire to hay bales on the road, then another law has been broken.” This would be Article 350 of the Penal Code, which states that you may not deliberately destroy, damage or compromise something that belongs to another. 

Therefore, there are sufficient grounds for the police to intervene after the protests. "You can expect the police to pursue this," says Nan. In practice, however, it will be a challenge to arrest suspects. So the question remains whether farmers will actually be punished for breaking these laws. 

More information

Read the full RTL Nieuws article here (in Dutch).

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