Italian mafia laws; a source of inspiration for the Netherlands?

Pieter Verrest

Organised drug crimes are a big problem in our country. Events like the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum and crime reporter Peter R. de Vries require an adequate reaction from the government. Minister of Justice and Safety Yesilgöz-Zegerius visited Italy on 13 and 14 June 2022 with Minister for Legal Protection Weerwind to discuss Italian mafia laws that have been in force in the country since the 90s. The goal of the visit was to gain insights into developing legislation to better tackle organised crime in the Netherlands. Pieter Verrest, Professor of Criminal Law at Erasmus School of Law, explains the possibilities for and impact of this approach to RTL-Nieuws.

Some aspects of Italian Criminal Law are the confiscation of criminal money before suspects are even convicted, the key witness rule, isolation of wealthy mafia bosses and a very extensive criminalisation of participating in a mafia organisation.

Seizing criminal capital

According to Verrest considering the laws in other European countries is always a good thing: “Of course, Italy has a lot of experience battling undermining crime. Parts of Italian laws already exist in the Netherlands or are currently considered here. For example, there is a proposal to seize criminal capital before a suspect is convicted. Knowing there is a reasonable chance that their money is being affected can be an important obstacle in their criminal activities.” 

Draconic measures

At the same time, there should be some restraint. Crime in Italy, especially in the 90s, cannot be compared to the situation in The Netherlands. In Italy, the mafia infiltrated all layers of society and the government, explains Verrest: “Draconic measures were needed. Examples are the isolated detention and the extensive criminalisation of participating in a mafia organisation.” 

The previous minister for Legal Protection visited Italy at the end of 2021 to look at the isolated detention facilities. In practice, he did not see much-added value compared to our maximum-security facilities. In addition, there is a lot of criticism concerning the fundamental rights of inmates. However, he came back with a different concept: building a courtroom in prison and using video trials to avoid the transport of suspects with a flight risk.

Italian context

Finally, the Professor of Criminal Law at the Erasmus University explains that it is essential to look at the broader context of measures when comparing law systems: “For example, Italy has a significantly different criminal law system than the Netherlands. The measures that have been taken are a part of the bigger picture. The different organisations of Police and Justice and the separate procedure for the shortened adjudication of criminal cases that is possible in Italy are easy to understand because of the much more complicated adjudication system in Italy.” 

More information

Click here for the entire fragment of RTL Nieuws (in Dutch, 14m33s)

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes