Dutch Justice Minister supports separate immigrant sentences

Due to a recent community backlash against crime in the Netherlands committed by groups of immigrants, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has come out in support of the idea of sentencing immigrant criminals differently from native Dutch criminals.

Although faced with some disapproval from immigrant groups, the Minister has emphasied that the Christian Democrats are in favour of "different" rather than "tougher" crime sentencing. He explained his position by stating that some crime rings, especially youth, are affected differently by different sentences. For example, some immigrant groups are unable to look their peers in the eye if they have committed a crime and received a strong penalty. In these cases, he suggests, it is better to sentence the individual to community service rather than a jail sentence.

The Minister did not think that this approach was discriminatory - he claims that the weight of sentences vary according to certain groups in terms of emotional and pshychological impact.

Ethnic crime in the Netherlands has become highlighted in recent years due to an increase in reported street robberies and even murders.

Immigrant groups, on the other hand, have protested such moves, claiming that they are stigmatised by the media and have called for for community respect between migrants and native Dutch.

However, the Institute for Multicultural Development Forum in Utrect said that it did not oppose the idea of varied sentences for "immigrant delinquents."

Forum director Sadik Harchaoui said that the leaders of Antillean and Moroccan gangs should be separated from their peers and prosecuted. The Director also suggested further interventionist methods to confront the delinquent youths with the consequences of their actions. Nevertheless, Mr. Harchaoui said that treating a person differently according to their skin colour would lead to further discrimination.

See more in our Netherlands immigration section.