Bring back death penalty: thinktank
22 February 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The director of the Liberal VVD party's thintank has urged for a re-introduction of the death penalty, claiming it would act as a deterrent to violent crime and give a political voice to a large section of the electorate.
22 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — The director of the Liberal VVD party's thintank has urged for a re-introduction of the death penalty, claiming it would act as a deterrent to violent crime and give a political voice to a large section of the electorate.
Telders Foundation Director Patrick van Schie said the constitutional ban on the death penalty should be abolished, allowing for the sentence to be imposed for war crimes, terrorism, multiple murder and exceptionally brutal murders.
Writing in the Liberaal Reveil, Van Schie claims that 40 to 50 percent of the population is in favour of Dutch law providing the possibility of imposing the death penalty for serious offences.
Based on such support, he said a lively debate about the issue could be expected in a democratic country, but this had not occurred to date in the Netherlands.
Van Schie claims the death penalty is taboo among politicians in The Hague and that anyone who comes out in support of it is immediately out of favour.
But the VVD was quick to reject the proposed re-introduction of the penalty, with MP Laetitia Griffith claiming that Van Schie's suggestion was a personal plea, rather than one made on behalf of the party's foundation.
She also said that 50 to 60 percent of the population is opposed to the death penalty, news agency Novum reported. "Moreover it is a senseless proposal. You can't scare terrorists with the death penalty because they want to die," she said.
Van Schie claims the death penalty provides relatives of victims some form of closure and also offers society protection against dangerous and incorrigible criminals. He stressed that the death penalty meant convicted criminals could not commit repeat crimes.
Admitting that there is a risk that someone might be wrongly convicted, the director claimed that new investigation techniques — such as DNA evidence — significantly reduce that chance.
He also realises that there is little chance that the death penalty will be introduced in the near future. But he pointed out that there is a chance that the Netherlands might suffer a terrorist attack in which hundreds — if not thousands — of people are killed before a large section of the population gains a political voice.
"We can only hope that the stubbornness of politicians in The Hague is not so large that innumerable victims must die needlessly," he said.
But should the Netherlands opt to re-introduce the death penalty, it would encounter problems with the European Union, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The death penalty breaches the Copenhagen criteria of democracy and human rights which must be met by candidate EU member states. These criteria come into play when discussions are being waged about Turkey's accession.
The first Cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende debated the death penalty after populist LPF Immigration Minister Hilbrand Nawijn made a "personal plea" to reintroduce the sentence in 2002
But Christian Democrat CDA leader Balkenende and Liberal VVD Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm were opposed to the proposal, as was coalition government party LPF.
The Netherlands abolished the death penalty from criminal law in 1870 and introduced a life sentence in 1878. The death penalty was not eliminated from military law until 1983.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news