Life imprisonment in Belgium

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Life imprisonment is legal in Belgium and is the most severe punishment available under Belgian law since the abolishment of the death penalty. It can only be imposed for murder. Inmates sentenced to life imprisonments are eligible to apply for parole after serving 15 years (when no previous conviction or below 3 years), 19 years (when previous conviction below 5 years), or 23 years (when previous conviction 5 years or more).[1] If the parole court rejects the parole, the inmate can continuously apply every year.

For minors under age 12, there is never prosecution. For those aged 12 to 17, juvenile court is in charge. The most severe punishment by juvenile court is imprisonment till the age of 20. But when aged 16 or 17 and suspected of severe offences, the juvenile court can decide to transfer to Correctional Court (for murder cases Court of Assize). The most severe punishment by Court of Assize when aged 16 or 17 (when crime is committed) is 30 years' imprisonment (eligible to apply for parole after serving 15 years).[2]


  1. ^ (in French) (in Dutch) extract from the Belgian Official Journal 17 March 2013.
  2. ^ (in Dutch) Jeugdsanctierecht in Europa: is uithandengeving een evidentie? Jura falconis, jg 44, 2007-2008, nr 1, p. 3-38