On Wednesday 5 January 2022, a man with a flaming torch caused a threatening situation at the front door of Sigrid Kaag, Minister of Finance. Threats and harassment of Dutch politicians seem to get more and more severe. Are heavier punishments necessary? Joost Nan, Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law, specialised in Financial-Economic Criminal Law at Erasmus School of Law, explains to RTL Nieuws why such a possibility might emerge.
Increasing the maximum penalty might not be the solution. Perpetrators usually get away with a relatively mild sentence, says Nan: “When you verbally or non-verbally threaten someone, you could get up to two years of prison sentence. In practice, this never happens.”
However, it seems like the Dutch Parliament will pass a proposal to increase the maximum penalty for threatening public officeholders. The Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam thinks that this could contribute to raising awareness: “By increasing punishments, the government can signal that these kinds of threats are far from normal.”