Capital punishment in the Netherlands

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Capital punishment in the Netherlands (Dutch: doodstraf in Nederland) was abolished in 1870 in criminal law after the States General recognized it was "cruel and uncivilized". The bill was introduced by liberal-catholic Minister of Justice Franciscus van Lilaar and debated in both the Senate and House of Representatives for seven days before approval. Following the abolition of the death penalty, life imprisonment was made an official punishment in 1878.

A few years after gaining independence in 1815, the Kingdom of the Netherlands determined that the death penalty could be carried out through beheading.[1] Between 1945 and 1952 several war criminals from World War II were sentenced to death by the Bijzonder Gerechtshof for treason of the State of the Netherlands and the deportation of Dutch Jews. The last persons to be executed under military law were SS officers Andries Jan Pieters and Artur Albrecht in March 1952. Capital punishment remained a legal military option until 1983 when it was explicitly forbidden in the Constitution of the Netherlands. In 1991, all references to the death penalty were removed from Dutch law.

Today the Netherlands operates a clear policy against capital punishment, not participating in extradition if the suspect has a chance of receiving the death penalty.[citation needed]


  • Article 114 of the Constitution (Dutch: Grondwet) prohibits sentencing someone to death. The exact provision in the original Dutch, De doodstraf kan niet worden opgelegd, translates to "The death penalty cannot be imposed".[2] This means that as a result, the death penalty does not exist in the Netherlands. It also means that the death penalty cannot be added to future or existing law articles. That would conflict with the Dutch Constitution Law.

Capital punishment today[edit]

The Reformed Political Party (Dutch: Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP), a Christian right party, supports the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Netherlands. They base this on the Bible, specifically on Genesis 9:6, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man," and Exodus 21:12, "He that smiteth a man, so that he dies, shall be surely put to death."

Last executed man and woman in the Netherlands[edit]

Executed person Date of execution Crime(s) By Where Method
Ans van Dijk January 14, 1948 Betrayal of 700 hiding Jews during World War II. She collaborated with the Sicherheitsdienst Bijzonder Gerechtshof[3][4] Fort Bijlmer [nl] Firing squad
Artur Albrecht and Andries Jan Pieters[4] March 21, 1952 SD-commander; torture and executions. Bijzonder Gerechtshof[3][4] Waalsdorpervlakte Firing squad

See also[edit]


General note: All sources are in Dutch.



  1. ^ "Netherlands".
  2. ^ " - Wet- en regelgeving - Grondwet - BWBR0001840".
  3. ^ a b This court was established shortly after World War II, for crimes committed in WW II. 154 were sentenced to death, but only 39 were executed. Some of those executions were done by firing squad.
  4. ^ a b c "De laatste doodstraf" (in Dutch). Geschiedenis 24, Andere Tijden. Retrieved 11 December 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Death penalty in the Netherlands at Wikimedia Commons