Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Netherlands: Limits on Community Service Orders

(Dec. 15, 2008) A new bill that would disallow courts from imposing community service orders alone as a sanction against serious sexual and violent offenders has been proposed by Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, according to a press release issued on December 2, 2008, by the Ministry of Justice. However, the bill would not eliminate the use of combined sanctions, such as a prison sentence (suspended or not) in combination with a community service order.

More specifically, the bill “indicates that community service orders are undesirable for offences carrying a prison sentence of six years or more and which involve a serious physical integrity attack upon the victim.” (Press Release, Ministry of Justice of the Netherlands, New Bill Limits Community Orders (Dec. 2, 2008), available at
.) In determining whether to use the community service order sanction, the press release points out, the decisive issue will be the gravity of the offense, because it differs in each case of sexual and violent crimes, which by definition involve an attack on the victim's physical integrity. Thus, for the crime of rape, a community service order as the sole punishment would not be permitted under the bill, but if the offense involved a forced French kiss (“considered 'rape' under the Dutch Penal Code and thus a serious sexual offence”), that sanction would be allowable because of the less serious attack on the person's physical integrity. (Id.)

The proposed legislation also severely limits the option of imposing a community service order in the case of repeat offenses. According to the press release, “[a] second community service order may subsequently only be imposed if both the old and new charges do not involve serious sexual or violent offences, and the order is combined with a prison sentence, suspended or otherwise, or other custodial measure.” (Id.)