Escaping from prison to be made a crime in the Netherlands

Escaping from prison to be made a crime in the Netherlands

Escaping from prison is not a criminal offence in the Netherlands, but could soon become one under proposals announced by the outgoing minister for Legal Protection. Minister Franc Weerwind plans to submit a legislative amendment that could be in effect by summer 2024. 

Escaping from prison could become a crime in the Netherlands

Though not already a crime, legislators in the Netherlands are set to make it a crime to escape a prison or psychiatric prison, bringing the country in line with many other European countries. At present, The Netherlands “recognises the right to try to escape in pursuit of the inmate's pursuit of his or her fundamental and inalienable right to freedom and liberty” according to official government documents. 

Despite this, there are calls for the government to change the regulations, and there have been several plans in the works to try and get the bill passed for the last five years. In 2019, Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind promised to make escaping punishable, with the support of the Dutch parliament. 

Helping an inmate escape is illegal, but escaping as a prisoner is not

One of the key reasons driving the change is the fact that escaping from prison is legal, but anyone found to be assisting an escaping prisoner will be prosecuted for assisting the escapee. Outgoing Minister Weerwind said that he holds the view that “it is illogical that escaping from detention is not punishable while helping another person to flee is.”

Weerwind also acknowledged the fact that the bill has been shelved for a long time until now. “I owe you that answer. I know that it has been picked up and I am working on it,” he said. The bill could be ready by as soon as summer 2024.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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