While courts are permitted to apply life sentences for murder, they only choose to do so in extreme cases following a Supreme Court recommendation earlier this year.
If courts decide to set a time limit on a murder sentence, as is increasingly the case, Ask argues that they should not be restricted to ten years.
A judicial review into sentencing procedures is expected to be ready by April 30th but the minister has called for the section dealing with time limits to be completed by the end of November.
“Taking another person’s life is the ultimate violent crime. It is of course very important that society sends a clear signal as to how it views this crime,” said Beatrice Ask.
The minister argued that it was too early to talk about other changes that needed to be made but added that she considered this particular change an absolute priority.
“The development we are currently seeing means that we risk actually lowering sentences and I don’t intend to just sit down quietly and watch it happen,” she said.
The Justice Minister’s intervention has come about as a result a controversial decision reached by the Supreme Court during the spring.
Suspected his girlfriend of meeting another man, a man in his forties stabbed his girlfriend in the back as she lay in bed. The District Court sentenced the man to life imprisonment for murder.
The Court of Appeal however ruled that life sentences should only be awarded in exceptional cases and reduced the man’s sentence to ten years. This decision led to ten-year sentences emerging as the norm in a number of subsequent murder cases, a development which Ask now hopes to halt.