Possession of paedophiles' charter to become punishable by up to four years' imprisonment
The dissemination, acquisition and possession of instruction manuals containing tips and tricks for sexually abusing children will be made explicitly punishable and carry a maximum sentence of four years' imprisonment. Such 'paedophiles' charters' or 'paedophiles' handbooks' present a danger to children, as they could inspire potential child molesters to action. This lies at the core of a legislative proposal by Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus, which was submitted for consultation today.
According to Grapperhaus, the sexual abuse of children is one of the most devastating forms of crime as regards the repercussions for victims and their environment.
'Children have a right to grow up in a safe environment. The fact that there are people out there who share advice on how to molest children – mostly on the dark web – is monstrous and unacceptable. This has been proven to lower the threshold when it comes to putting malicious thoughts into action. We have an obligation to stop both online and offline abuse and to prevent children from ending up in abusive situations to the best of our abilities.'
Material to facilitate the sexual abuse of children has been circulating on the 'dark web' for some time. Among other things, this material describes how to 'target' children, seduce them and gain their trust. Such 'instruction manuals' are known informally as paedophiles' charters. In the spring, Grapperhaus indicated that he would consult with the Public Prosecution Service to determine whether the possession of such a paedophiles' charter could be made punishable in its own right. He believes that the undesirability of such material makes it necessary for the government to take such a step. The Lower House of Parliament has also expressed a desire for action.
Grapperhaus feels it is important to act against potential child molesters at an early stage. As a result, preparatory acts with the intent to commit sexual abuse of children will be made punishable as separate crimes. Criminal law currently does not allow for measures to be taken in all such cases. As an example, it currently does not cover the dissemination or possession of instructional material for sexual child abuse.
'Our ultimate goal must be to put a stop to such revolting practices, so that we can offer children better protection.'
Grapperhaus has launched several initiatives to stage early interventions against sexual child abuse. One of these is last year's broader definition of online grooming for criminalisation purposes. In addition, consultations are being held on a legislative proposal to modernise the criminalisation of sex crimes, with a particular focus on the vulnerability of children to online sexual abuse. The proposal includes the explicit criminalisation of 'sex chatting', which is the practice of adults engaging in persistent attempts to contact and communicate online with children for sexual ends.