Since 1 January 2022, the maximum penalty for people that trespass the terrain of a port (to collect drugs from sea containers, for example) has been raised. The Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (OM) hoped for higher sentences for these collectors. Still, despite their higher demanded sentences, the suspects got away with a considerably lower punishment in a higher court than what was demanded by the OM, which was imposed by the lower court. Joost Nan, Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at Erasmus School of Law, explains these developments to RTL Nieuws.
The OM has demanded prison sentences in several cases against drug collectors, but the judge eventually gave them community service. This setback forces the OM to get back to the drawing board. Cases of suspects are currently being maintained at the court during the evaluation period. The suspects in these cases are set at liberty during this time, and until there is more clarity, future first offenders can await their process in freedom.
According to Professor Nan, these setbacks are not unusual when implementing new criminal laws: “a new criminal law is often met with these problems. It makes sense that it requires getting used to from both parties. Now, the OM knows what is required in the file the next time to get their way.”
Investigation into a criminal organisation
The new law does not seem like a great success up until now. Still, according to Nan, the law offers opportunities: “This law is also implemented to look further into the organisation, through the eye of the collector. For example, when the police spot someone who is about to collect drugs but has not done anything yet, the OM could use the new law to investigate other people further. For example. by putting a wiretap on their phone to get higher into the organisation.”