Detained outside the EU.

Detained outside the EU: return to the Netherlands under the WOTS legislation

If you have been detained in another country, it is not easy to find your place in Dutch society soon after your release. But the government wants to encourage this, so to make it somewhat simpler for you, it is possible to serve your sentence in the Netherlands. This is called transfer of sentence, and arrangements for it are made in the WOTS. What is the WOTS?

The WOTS was written for countries outside the European Union, and it is also used by EU countries that have not implemented the WETS in their own legislation. The Netherlands is a party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Verdrag inzake de Overbrenging van Gevonniste Personen, concluded in 1983, in the Netherlands usually referred to as VOGP). This treaty makes it possible, under certain conditions, for a Dutch person who has been sentenced in another country to serve his or her sentence in a Dutch prison.

In what countries is it possible to use the WOTS?

This act, officially the Enforcement of Criminal Judgments (Transfer) Act (“Wet Overdracht Tenuitvoerlegging Strafvonnissen”), is often referred to as the WOTS. Prisoners can only be transferred to countries that have signed a treaty allowing for transfer to a person’s country of origin. There are both multilateral and bilateral treaties. The VOGP is a multilateral treaty, one involving three countries or more. People can also be transferred on the basis of a bilateral treaty, which is concluded between two countries. Only Venezuela, Morocco, Brazil, Peru, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Thailand have thus far concluded a bilateral treaty with the Netherlands (each of them separately).

Submitting a WOTS request

A request for transfer must be submitted to the authorities in the country where you are detained. As a prisoner, you must give your consent for transfer to the Netherlands. Prisoners must contact the prison governor for this purpose.

Two procedures

If your application is approved, there are two ways in which the Dutch authorities can take over your criminal sentence, so that you can continue to serve your sentence in the Netherlands:

  1. Continued enforcement. Under this procedure, the duration of the sentence in the Netherlands must be the same as the duration would be in the other country. However, the sentence is adjusted to the Dutch maximum sentence, provided the other country agrees to this.
  2. Conversion proceedings. Here the court converts the foreign sentence into a Dutch sentence, as long as the foreign authorities have no objections. The converted sentence may not be longer than the foreign sentence, but it may be shorter. 

For more information

Contact the WOTS 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 WOTS case, you can get in touch with Rachel Imamkhan at info@prisonlaw.nl