The Netherlands mistakenly sent 10-year OM sentencing orders to the EU

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Over ten years the Netherlands has wrongly issued at least 22,000 criminal orders to other European member states and the United Kingdom. Member States may provide each other with information on nationals or foreigners who commit crimes and travel to another country. However, the Netherlands should have limited itself to sharing criminal convictions, outgoing minister Frank Weerwind (legal protection) writes in a letter to parliament.

The minister “deeply regrets” that information about sentences imposed by the Public Prosecution Service has also been provided. There is no judge in this. It usually covers minor offences. The mishandling of this information took place between April 2012 and September 2022. However, the consequences are unclear, as it is not known how many times Dutch criminal orders on the register have been requested by other countries.

Those affected by this may suffer without knowing the cause. The government can’t tell everyone involved because their addresses are no longer traceable or privacy laws are in the way, reports Weirwind.

No legal basis

Since 2012, countries have been able to issue sentences through the European criminal record ECRIS, which can alert each other about people with a criminal past. This concerns sentences imposed in the Netherlands, for example, on Dutch nationals and those from EU member states or beyond.

Last year, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) issued a warning about the Netherlands issuing criminal orders. Then Weirwind examined it. He has now concluded that there is no legal basis for this and that the punishments can only be shared.

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The Netherlands has asked EU member states to repeal the Dutch OM decisions. But it is not known which country has acquired which criminal order in its own national registry. According to the ministry’s spokesperson, countries cannot be forced to arrange this.

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