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Capital punishment ("Doodstraf" in Dutch) in the Netherlands was first abolished in 1870, though only in criminal law, by the Dutch justice minister Van Lilaar. Following the abolition of the death penalty, life imprisonment was made an official punishment in 1878. In military law, however, capital punishment remained a legal option until 1983, when it was forbidden. In 1991, any reference to the death penalty was removed from Dutch law.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Dutch government in exile decided to reintroduce capital punishment because it feared the Dutch people "would take matters into their own hands" after five years of cruel German occupation[1][2]. In 1945, the massive process of prosecuting traitors and collaborators began; several thousand people were arrested. 152 people were sentenced to death of whom 39 were actually executed. In Dutch law, the Queen could give clemency to people convicted to death effectively changing their sentence from death to life imprisonment. Queen Juliana especially did this regularly, thereby limiting the number of sentences actually carried out[3]. In most cases the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment after the defendant appealed. The last executions in the Netherlands took place on March 21, 1952, on the Waalsdorpervlakte, near The Hague, where a large number of Dutch resistance members had been executed by the Germans during the war. Wilhelm Albrecht (an SD officer responsible for the death of dozens of Dutchmen and women[4]) and Andreas Pieters (a notorious Dutch collaborator, infamously known as "Steinbach"[5]) were the last people to be executed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Today the Netherlands operates a clear policy against capital punishment, such as not participating in extradition if the suspect has even the slightest chance of receiving the death penalty. However, a big minority of the Dutch population is in favour of reestablishing the death penalty for crimes such as murder and terrorism.


General note: All sources are in Dutch.



  1. ^ "Bravo" voor de doodstraf
  2. ^ Bijzondere Rechtspraak na de Tweede Wereldoorlog
  3. ^ Gratie en de koningin: Een deal op leven en dood
  4. ^ Wilhelm Artur Albrecht
  5. ^ Andries Pieters, alias Steinbach


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