Donner backs 'immigrant sentences'
28 November 2003 AMSTERDAM — Faced with a community backlash against ethnic crime and headline-stealing violence, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has in principle backed the idea of sentencing immigrants who commit crime differently than Dutch nationals.But the conservative Christian Democrat CDA minister stressed in an interview with the Amnesty International magazine that he was in favour of "different", rather than tougher sentencing.Amsterdam police chief Jelle Kuiper welcomed the discussion and said
28 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Faced with a community backlash against ethnic crime and headline-stealing violence, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has in principle backed the idea of sentencing immigrants who commit crime differently than Dutch nationals.
But the conservative Christian Democrat CDA minister stressed in an interview with the Amnesty International magazine that he was in favour of "different", rather than tougher sentencing.
Amsterdam police chief Jelle Kuiper welcomed the discussion and said in sentencing criminals, the effectiveness of punishments must be examined. He also said this could differ from person to person and that a distinction between migrant and Dutch native was too restricted.
As example, Kuiper suggested the present practice of fining wealthy business people for criminal acts should be placed up for discussion, newspaper Het Parool reported.
Donner was responding to comments from the former chief of police in The Hague, Jan Wiarda, who said in June against a backdrop of concerns over ethnic crime that criminal immigrants should receive harsher penalties.
Wiarda said Dutch student youths could be given a suspended sentence, but proposed sending immigrants to youth correctional schools and attracted widespread political condemnation for the remarks.
But in the Amnesty magazine that will be published next month, Minister Donner backed the use of different punishments: "If there is an approach that works with Dutch nationals but not with others. I then think in the general interest we should do something that does help".
Donner used as an example the problem with youth criminality in the Netherlands, in which justice authorities have chosen to engage in a serious conversation at the police station with youth offenders in a bid to ward off repeat offences.
But he said such tactics might work with Dutch nationals, but it backfires with some other groups.
He said those latter groups cannot look their friends in the eye if they have done something and received a strong penalty. In that case, it is better to sentence them to a community work order, Donner said.
The minister denied such an approach was discriminating. He said it was possible to identify something that had the same emotional impact on these groups as what something else did for Dutch nationals and that not adjusting the approach or punishment would be discriminating.
The Netherlands has been in the grip of strong media attention in recent years focused on ethnic crime, ranging from street robberies or disturbances to brutal slayings.
Flashpoints include the October death of Amsterdam drug addict Anja Joos and the beating murder of 22-year-old Rene Steegmans in Venlo in October 2002, both of which sparked community outrage.
And after Tilburg resident Bart Raaijmakers, 18, was robbed and stabbed to death in July this year, the municipal authority, welfare workers and police announced a crackdown against criminal Antillean youth. Two of the four arrested suspects were Antilleans.
Immigrant groups have hit back, claiming they are stigmatised by the media and have called for community respect between migrants and native Dutch. They also loudly protested the August shooting and killing of knife-wielding Moroccan man Driss Arbib, 33, by Amsterdam police.
But the Institute for Multicultural Development Forum said on Friday that it was not opposed to the idea of different sentences for "immigrant delinquents."
Forum director Sadik Harchaoui said that the leaders of gangs of Antillean and Moroccan gangs should be isolated from their peers and prosecuted, newspaper De Volkrant said on Friday.
He also called for more "intervention" to confront the difficult teens with the consequences of their actions to steer them onto the right path.
But Harchaoui warned that discrimination and treating a person differently on the basis of their skin colour would only make things worse.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news