Detained inside the EU.

Detained inside the EU: return to the Netherlands under the WETS legislation

The Dutch government finds it important that people can quickly return to society after they have completed their prison term. The WETS was created for people who are detained inside the European Union. What is the WETS?

Dutch society changes rapidly. If you have been detained in a foreign prison for several years, it is hard to know what steps you will need to take if you want to have a new chance of getting a job or finding a house. To make this step somewhat easier for you, it is possible to serve your sentence in the Netherlands. This is called transfer of sentence.

What does the WETS do?

The WETS is legislation written for this purpose. This act makes arrangements for transfer of sentence between the Netherlands and other European Union countries. The arrangements must be made between countries that have implemented the framework decision – containing these new European arrangements on transfer of sentence – in their own legislation.

WETS stands for Wet wederzijdse erkenning en tenuitvoerlegging vrijheidsbenemende en voorwaardelijke sancties (Measures Involving Deprivation of Liberty and Conditional Penalties (Mutual Recognition and Enforcement) Act). This act was introduced in the Netherlands on 1 November 2012.

Consent of the prisoner is not required

The WETS procedure does not require the prisoner’s consent. This means that the country where your sentence was pronounced can initiate the WETS procedure even if the prisoner did not request it. The two countries then work together to decide that a prisoner will serve his or her sentence in the Netherlands. Two countries can jointly start the procedure and can also conclude it later. The prisoner has no say in this.

When can a prisoner return to the Netherlands under this act?

How does the WETS work in actual practice? Within 90 days after receipt of the WETS certificate, the Minister of Security and Justice issues a decision stating whether the prisoner will be transferred to the Netherlands. Transfer must take place within 30 days, but in practice, it may be somewhat different. Most countries do not work on the basis of deadlines. The framework decision does not specify time limits either. This means that implementation of the WETS may take somewhat longer.

Pay before you leave

It is possible that a prisoner owes a fine or is subject to a confiscation order. Many countries do not want to transfer fines or confiscation orders to other countries. This means that a prisoner must first pay the fine in the country where he or she was sentenced before being allowed to return to the Netherlands. If this is not possible, a person can apply for a reduced fine or even cancellation of the fine. After the fine has been paid and/or remission has been granted, the other country (the country where the sentence was pronounced) is willing to continue the WETS procedure.

If you have an outstanding fine or a demand for a confiscation order, it may mean that the provisions if the act are delayed or even do not go ahead.

Tip: It is important to first resolve the matter with the penalty or confiscation order before applying for transfer under the WETS. Otherwise, if you have an outstanding fine, the entire procedure may be delayed or may even not take place.

For more information

Contact the WETS information line of the Ministry of Justice on telephone number 088-0725963 (available on weekdays from 9.00 to 12.00).

If you need help in your WETS case, you can get in touch with Rachel Imamkhan at info@prisonlaw.nl